Community Radio Licensing

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is a statutory authority within the federal government portfolio of Communications and the Arts tasked with overlooking most elements of Australia's media and communications legislation. The ACMA is Australia's regulator for the inetrnet, radiocommunications, telecommunications and broadcasting, including community broadcasting.

The ACMA offers community broadcasting licences for allocation when they are made available in a licence area plan. Licence area plans (LAPs) determine the number and characteristics of the broadcasting services available in particular areas of Australia.

Allocation of temporary community broadcasting licences

Before undertaking any merit-based allocation of a long-term licence, ACMA may allocate non-renewable temporary community radio licences to eligible broadcasters for up to 12 months. These temporary community broadcasting licences (TCBLs) provide access to available spectrum ahead of, but without affecting the outcome of, the allocation of long-term broadcasting service licences.

Temporary community broadcasting licence guidelines
Community broadcasting licence transfer guidelines
Allocation of long-term community broadcasting licences

The ACMA assesses applications for available long-term community radio and community television broadcasting licences on a merit basis.

In deciding whether to allocate a licence to an applicant, the ACMA takes into account:

  • the extent to which the proposed service would meet the existing and future needs of the community within the licence area
  • the nature and diversity of the interests of that community
  • the nature and diversity of other broadcasting services (including national broadcasting services) available within that licence area
  • the capacity of the applicant to provide the proposed service
  • the undesirability of one person being in a position to exercise control of more than one community broadcasting in the same licence area
  • the undesirability of the Commonwealth, state or territory or a political party being in a position to exercise control of a community broadcasting licence.

After the successful applicant has been notified, it is a condition on the licence that the licensee commences providing the service within one year of being allocated the licence or a longer period as notified by the ACMA.

Community broadcasting licences remain in force for five years.

Renewal of a community broadcasting licence

The ACMA will remind a station to renew their licence 13-14 months prior to the expiration of that licence. The due date for this application is exactly 12 months prior to the expiration of the licence.

When a renewal application is received, the ACMA conducts an assessment and investigation of the licence. This may take up to 12 months. The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 was amended in 2002 so that, in deciding whether to renew a licence, the ACMA can take into account the same matters that it took into account when allocating the licence (outlined above). 

Get information about how to renew your licence and what you need to include in your application.

Related resources for applying for or renewing a community broadcasting licence

This resource page is a summation of information available from the ACMA's website. You can also access more application forms.