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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006   
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Contents >> Chapter 12 - Culture and recreation >> Radio and television broadcasting

RADIO AND TELEVISION BROADCASTING

Broadcasting services in Australia are regulated primarily through the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cwlth). The Act identifies and defines categories of broadcasting services, establishes regulatory arrangements for broadcasting services, and established the Australian Broadcasting Authority as the independent regulator for radio and television in Australia. On 1 July 2005, the Australian Broadcasting Authority merged with the Australian Communications Authority to form the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and it is this body which now has regulatory responsibility for radio and television in Australia.

The Act defines six categories of broadcasting services covering both radio and television:

  • national broadcasting services - the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Special Broadcasting Service, which are largely regulated through separate legislation
  • commercial broadcasting services - free-to-air radio and television services operated for profit and funded predominantly by advertising revenue
  • community broadcasting services - non-profit free-to-air services provided for community purposes
  • subscription broadcasting services - services with general appeal to the public and funded predominantly by customer subscriptions
  • subscription narrowcasting services - services with limited appeal to the general public (either because of content or availability) and funded predominantly by customer subscriptions
  • open narrowcasting services - services providing programmes targeted to special interests groups (e.g. foreign language), or of limited appeal because of content or availability, and not funded by subscriptions.

International broadcasting services may fall into any of the last five categories and are targeted, to a significant extent, to audiences outside Australia, using a radiocommunications transmitter in Australia.

RADIO AND TELEVISION LICENCES

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is the regulator for radio and television broadcasting, digital broadcasting, and Internet content in Australia. As well as planning the availability of segments of the broadcasting services bands (VHF/UHF television, FM and AM radio), the ACMA has the power to allocate, renew, suspend and cancel licences and to collect any fees payable for those licences. Table 12.21 shows the number of radio and television licences on issue in Australia.


12.21 RADIO AND TELEVISION LICENCES ON ISSUE(a) - 30 June

2002
2003
2004

Commercial television broadcasting licences
52
53
53
Community television broadcasting licences
-
-
2
Commercial radio broadcasting licences
255
269
271
Community radio broadcasting licences
312
334
341
Remote Aboriginal community television licences
80
76
80
Open narrowcasting services planned in licence area plans
170
207
207
International broadcasting licences
10
10
10

(a) The number of licences on issue does not necessarily reflect the number of services operating, as some licences have been issued but a service is yet to commence.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Authority, Annual Reports, 2002-03 and 2003-04.


The ACMA sets various standards which must be adhered to by commercial television broadcasters. For example, the Australian Content Standard requires all commercial free-to-air broadcasters to transmit an annual minimum of 55% Australian content between 6.00 am and midnight. Further specific annual minimum quotas exist regarding the broadcasting of Australian (adult) drama, documentary and children's programmes. In addition there is a standard for Australian Content in Advertising which requires that at least 80% of advertising time broadcast each year by commercial free-to-air television licensees, between the hours of 6.00 am and midnight, be used for Australian produced advertisements.

Further information about the ACMA can be obtained from the web site, <http://www.acma.gov.au>.

TELEVISION BROADCASTING SERVICES

There were 9,094 employees working for 27 commercial free-to-air and 6 subscription television broadcasting businesses at the end of June 2003 (table 12.22). These businesses earned a total income of $5,158.8m and an operating profit before tax of $207.4m during 2002-03. Profitability was markedly different between commercial free-to-air and subscription broadcasters. The commercial free-to-air television broadcasters recorded an operating profit before tax of $658.9m, and an operating profit margin of 17.7%. In contrast, subscription broadcasters recorded an operating loss of $451.5m before tax, while their operating profit margin was negative 33.6%.


12.22 TELEVISION SERVICES OPERATIONS(a) - 2002-03

Units
Commercial free-to-air broadcasters
Subscription
broadcasters
Total

Businesses at end June 2003
no.
27
6
33
Total employment at end June 2003
no.
6,577
2,517
9,094
Total income
$m
3,810.6
1,348.2
5,158.8
Total expenses
$m
3,154.0
1,837.3
4,991.3
Operating profit before tax
$m
658.9
-451.5
207.4
Operating profit margin
%
17.7
-33.6
4.1

(a) Excludes public and community television broadcasters.

Source: Television, Film and Video Production, Australia, 2002-03 (8679.0).


Commercial broadcast hours represent the airtime of completed first release programmes, including commercial breaks. Programme re-runs and the production time for commercials, advertisements and station programme promotions are excluded. In 2002-03 there were 54,743 commercial broadcast hours for first release productions made specifically for television by businesses based in Australia. Sport had the highest number of broadcast hours (23,556 hours or 43.0% of the total), followed by news and current affairs (17,837 hours or 32.6%). The production type with the lowest number of broadcast hours was situation and sketch comedy (71 hours or 0.1%). Productions made specifically for children accounted for 1,100 hours (2.0%).

Graph 12.23: FIRST RELEASE COMMERCIAL BROADCAST HOURS, By type of production(a)


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