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Sector Leadership Update: August 2021

Alex Crerar, 2nd September 2021
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The year was one of major change across the CBAA and the sector.

These changes were predominantly driven by our need to react to the COVID-19 pandemic, as, with all of you, the CBAA had to both navigate new challenges while balancing business as usual and the roll out of planned long-term programs.

Throughout this, we continue to advocate for our members’ interests – ensuring that our sector has a supportive political, financial, regulatory and legislative environment within which to operate, and that it can be resilient in the face of the pandemic.

Advocacy & Government Relations - where are we at?

Major priority: securing an additional $5m for the sector

Post-2021/22 Federal Budget, the CBAA’s focus has been on planning Government engagement activity for the next 18 months – to achieve its funding, regulatory and legislative aims. This also includes preparation for an upcoming Federal election, and engagement with the new Federal Ministers.

Through this planning period the CBAA has continued coordinating engagement with the Department—as the policy lead for Government—and the ACMA—as the Government regulator, and continued to advocate in support of securing an additional $5M in funding for the sector that will support the resilience of community radio stations to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Major priority: Steamlining our sector's regulation

As a result of ongoing work by the CBAA, in early 2020-21, the CBAA was advised that Minister Fletcher is pursuing a body of work in relation to the operating environment for community broadcasting. In 2021-22, we have an opportunity available to us to bring together the critical component parts that determine our future success (policy, regulation and industry), including:

  • An update to regulatory instruments, including finalising a review of the Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice and associated regulatory guidance material and resources.
  • Collaborating with the ACMA on a streamlined and/or risk-based licence renewal process for permanent community radio broadcasters.

Standardising not-for-profit regulation, by aligning the Broadcasting Services Act with ACNC and/or ATO understanding of not-for-profits, as well as supporting a harmonised charity regulatory framework. This work is ongoing.

Charities

Proposed Changes to Financial Reporting Thresholds for Charities 

In March 2021, Commonwealth Treasury led a consultation on proposed changes to financial reporting thresholds for charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. The proposed changes include the raising of thresholds for reporting, as part of an effort to promote alignment across the federal and state reporting regimes. Read our submission.

#HandsOffOurCharities

The CBAA, as part of the Hands Off Our Charities coalition is advocating against proposed changes to the ACNC’s Governance Standards, which would increase red tape for stations registered as charities, as well as impede on political engagement. Read more about the campaign.

Media Reform Green Paper: Modernising television regulation

The Media Reform Green Paper: Modernising television regulation recognises that Government public policy and cultural objectives rely heavily on free-to-air broadcasting: both television and radio. The CBAA's submission outlined several points regarding the repurpose of spectrum used by television; multiplex capacity sharing; the licensing framework; funding for transition and content; satellite, online, free-to-air and the role of community broadcasting. Read our submission.

Perth RA1 Licence Area

The CBAA made a submission to the ACMA’s consultation regarding FM broadcasting services band in the Perth RA1 licence area.  A number of the options proposed impact upon community radio broadcasters, requiring either a change of frequency or a change of transmission site location: specifically regarding 6KCR, 6SEN and 6WSM. As part of the mix of primary radio services in Perth, the situation of community metropolitan-wide AM radio reading service, 6RPH, also needs to be considered. The replanning also provides opportunity to tidy up and amend several long-standing historical anomalies related to 6NME, 6EBA, and 6NR.

Codes of Practice

The CBAA is awaiting ACMA’s feedback on a draft version of the Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice, prior to commencing public consultation. The CBAA has tested an early draft with the Codes Advisory Committee and member organisations, to broadly positive feedback. Once feedback from the ACMA has been received, the CBAA will review all feedback to date to reshape the consultation draft.

The CBAA is also planning to contract plain English editors for the draft Codes and consultation document, to ensure it is clear and accessible for our sector. We’ll then go out to sector and public consultation. Want to know more? Read our FAQ.

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