ACMA finds Queensland radio station in breach of its licence

Staff Writer

Queensland radio station FAB FM has found itself in hot water with the ACMA after a complaint that claimed the station was not fulfilling its content obligations.

FAB FM, based in Port Douglas, holds a licence to provide an open narrowcasting service.

An ACMA investigation found FAB FM was broadcasting some content to a special interest group, being tourists visiting the Port Douglas region, however, the proportion of material was low.

The majority of the content, according to the ACMA, was actually targeted at a wide audience, being residents of the Douglas Shire.

Under Australian law, open narrowcasting services must be limited in some way, such as targeting special interest groups, or by providing programs of limited appeal.

Of the broadcasts reviewed by the ACMA, less than 10% of automated programming and 17% of its four live-hosted programs was devoted to tourism information.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said radio broadcasters must ensure they operate within the terms of their licences or licensing arrangements.

“After a thorough investigation, we found that FAB FM is not providing open narrowcasting in accordance with its licence,” O’Loughlin said.

“Licensees must comply with their licence conditions at all times. There are serious consequences for not doing so, including criminal proceedings and suspension or cancellation of the licence.”

The ACMA has accepted a court-enforceable undertaking made by FAB FM to take actions to comply with its licence conditions and be monitored by the ACMA for the next two years.

The station will be required to provide a weekly program schedule, 4-hour running logs and an audio recording of all broadcasts, among other materials.

If the licensee breaches the undertaking, the ACMA may seek an order from the Federal Court to direct the licensee to comply or pay compensation.

The ACMA has also warned that it may suspend or cancel the licence if the station failed to meet its content obligations during or after the review.

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8 May 2020 - 3:15 pm

One line in the complaint perfectly demonstrates the patronising attitude apparently held by city-based networks toward their own regional stations: “The programming is quite professional, certainly by regional standards …”


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