Community Station Guidelines

Community broadcasting licences are subject to the conditions set out in clause 9 of Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Services Act.These conditions include time limits applicable to broadcasts of sponsorship announcements.

According to clause 9(1)(b) of Schedule 2, community broadcasters are not permitted to broadcast advertisements but can broadcast sponsorship announcements subject to certain conditions which are explained below.

Clause 2(2) of Schedule 2 provides that broadcasts of the following type will NOT be taken to be advertisements:

  • community information material or community promotional material;
  • a sponsorship announcement that acknowledges financial support by a sponsor of the community broadcaster or a program, whether or not the announcement:

a) specifies the name and address of, and a description of the general nature of any business or undertaking carried on by the sponsor; or
b) promotes activities, events, products, services or programs of the sponsor;

  • material that announces or promotes the service provided by the community broadcaster, including material (whether by way of the announcement or promotion of activities, events, products, services or otherwise) that is likely to induce public support, whether financially or otherwise, or to make use of, the services provided by the community broadcaster.

An example of an acceptable sponsorship announcement is one that might read as follows:

"Cheater's Cheesy Bits, makers of Australia's tastiest and most popular snacks, is proud to sponsor ..."

However, community broadcasters are not permitted to carry sponsorship announcements or promotions if direct sponsorship or support is NOT provided to that community broadcaster by the person or company named in the sponsorship announcement.

ACMA has prepared guidelines which provide information about the obligations of community broadcasters with respect to sponsorship announcements. Click here to view a copy of the guidelines on the ACMA website.

Level Of Sponsorship Announcements

A community broadcasting service is permitted to broadcast sponsorship announcements for a maximum of five minutes in any hour (clause 9(3)).

In working out the length of time devoted to sponsorship announcements, radio licensees should exclude from their calculation the following types of information:

  • material that publicises programs to be broadcast by the licensee;
  • material that promotes the licensee's products, services or activities, for the broadcast of which the licensee does not receive any consideration in cash or in kind; and
  • community information or community promotional material for which the licensee does not receive any consideration in cash or kind (clause 9(5)).

Community Interest

There are no defined formats for community broadcasters, but the format and target audience are taken into account by ACMA when considering licence applications.

Community Licences are allocated under a "beauty contest" with the licence being allocated to the group which can demonstrate that it is capable of servicing the needs of a representative community in the relevant licence area.

ACMA's list of currently licensed community stations (see section 1) lists the community interest which each community radio broadcaster is supposed to service. The list includes arts, educational, ethnic, religious and sporting communities, which are all clearly defined, as well as the category known as "general geographic area". A community licence which is supposed to service a "general geographic area" is one that is supposed to cover a specific geographic area and covers a broad range of programs.

ACMA will investigate a community broadcaster that is operating outside of the community interest for which its licence has been allocated - e.g. in some cases, offering a wide appeal "commercial type format".

For more information, please contact Sarah Kruger (Head of Legal & Regulatory Affairs) at or 02 9281 6577.