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Outcome of investigation into the CBAA's management of the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (Amrap)

Helen Henry, 18th September 2018

Today the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF) released its findings from its investigation into the management of the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (Amrap) initiative by the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA).

The investigation came about following complaints raised by a former staff member in 2017 and in a public campaign in early 2018.

The CBF’s announcement on the outcome of the investigation can be seen here.

In summary the findings were:
  • Funds provided under the CBAA Grant Agreements were used for the primary purpose of managing and further developing the Amrap in accordance with the terms and conditions of those agreements;
  • A review of the CBAA’s budgets and financial reports did not identify anything of material concern from an accounting or audit perspective;
  • No substantive inaccuracies or incompleteness was identified in respect of the progress and financial reports provided by the CBAA to the CBF; and
  • There was no undisclosed inaccuracy in the CBAA’s financial statements or declarations it issued to the CBF.

The CBAA’s President Phillip Randall is happy to share this update with all stakeholders:

“I’m very pleased at today’s announcement by CBF about the outcome of the investigation. The allegations were taken very seriously by the CBAA’s board. Stakeholders can be assured that the investigation was very thorough and the CBAA worked co-operatively at all times with the CBF during that process.”

“The CBAA remains dedicated to Amrap and confident in our ability to deliver it effectively, as we have done for almost two decades and in the service of thousands of Australian musicians and community broadcasters.”

The CBAA’s Chief Executive Officer Jon Bisset is looking forward to a bright future for the organisation’s Amrap services:

 “With this investigation complete, we look forward to continuing our work in an exciting era for community radio. More Australians than ever – 5.7 million each week - are listening to these community-owned and operated radio services, which provide crucial support for Australian arts and cultures.”

“Community radio plays an important role in Australia’s radio-scape by actively championing local music and contributing to the vitality of local music scenes. Across Australia, 37% of music broadcast on community radio is from Australian artists. This dedication is ingrained in its radio licence, meaning that community radio stations are created with an inherent value being placed on Australian music.”

“Our immediate plans include convening the CBAA’s Amrap Advisory Group, consisting of representatives from the Australian music industry and community broadcasting to assist us in future planning for services to strengthen the relationship between our two sectors.”

Community broadcasting is Australia’s largest independent media sector, a key pillar in the Australian media landscape, and recognised internationally as one of the most successful examples of grassroots media. There are 450+ community radio services across Australia providing programming that caters to the needs and interest groups of their communities.


The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) has managed the Amrap initiative since its inception 18 years ago. The CBAA champions community radio by building station capability and creating a healthy environment for the sector to thrive. Its membership includes 88% of permanently licensed community broadcasters. In the last 10 years, over 5,000 handpicked Australian musicians, 100 record labels and 3,000 broadcasters from 300 stations have used the CBAA’s Amrap services.

Funding for Amrap is provided by the Department of Communication and the Arts to the CBF under a funding agreement. In turn the CBF provides CBAA with the funds for the Amrap under an annual CBAA Grant Agreement.

In October 2017, a former employee of the CBAA made a complaint to CBF about the CBAA’s management of Amrap. The complaint included allegations of misuse of grant funds.

In April 2018, the CBF Board appointed Sydney-based barrister Ben Fogarty to independently investigate the complaint. Pitcher Partners, a national accountancy firm, were also appointed to provide expert accounting assistance and advice as part of the investigation.

The findings were made after a thorough investigation which included a review of the complaint documents, further documentation from the CBF and CBAA and interviews and questioning of the complainant and other witnesses.

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The largest pressure faced by community radio stations is financial. Stations constantly face the reality of how to ensure an adequate operating income in an increasingly competitive mediascape. Van Vuuren (2006c) argues that the extent of the contribution of community media to media democracy in Australia depends largely on how the sector manages commercial pressures. There is a need to ensure more financial stability to allow stations to focus on their primary community-orientated and participatory goals.


Community radio stations are community services – and should be safe places for all members of each community to come together. But sometimes situations crop up that challenge this social cohesion, and it’s how we handle these that can influence our station’s culture, people’s wellbeing and station ability to broadcast.