Overview of the Australian community radio sector

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The community radio sector is a vast place, filled with stations, regulatory and advisory bodies, and guided by documents and legislation.

We've put together this handy guide to help you and your station understand the many sector bodies (and their acronyms!); who is here to help, and who regulates what.

Regulatory bodies, legislation and documents
The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (The Act)

The Broadcasting Services Act outlines the legal framework of Australian broadcasting, including community broadcasting, and explains the role the sector plays in delivering diverse media services that reflect a sense of Australian identity, character and cultural diversity.

The Community Broadcasting Codes of Practice (The Codes)

The Codes set out the guiding principles and policies for programming on community broadcasting stations. They also outline the operational standards for stations that hold a community broadcasting licence. The Codes do not replace the licence conditions in the Act; they are complementary and stations are legally obliged to follow both the licence conditions and the Codes.

The Australian Media Communications Authority (ACMA)

The ACMA is the Australian broadcasting regulator and is responsible for ensuring that community broadcasting stations meet the licence conditions in the Act and requirements outlined in the Codes. The ACMA is responsible for giving stations their broadcast licences and oversees the licence renewal process.

Consumer Affairs bodies

Almost all community radio stations are incorporated associations, and must adhere to the association legislation as set out by each state's Consumer Affairs or Fair Trading body. Incorporated associations offer simple and more affordable ways of creating separate legal entities for small, community-based groups with limited resources. Consumer Affairs or Fair Trading bodies regulate these non-profits and associations.

Your station's constitution

The constitution of a not-for-profit is the road map for the running of the organisation. It is also a legal requirement that an organisation and its members follow the rules of the organisation. As such, your station's constitution is often the first place to turn to understand how your station should run, although the constitution must reflect legal obligations as set out by the Codes, the ACMA and your state's Consumer Affairs body.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)

The ACNC is the independent national regulator of charities. They are responsible for registering charities, supporting the not-for-profit sector and helping charities understand their obligations. Many community radio stations are registered charities, and as such must report to the ACNC - you can check your station's charity status online.

Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited (PPCA)

PPCA provides licences covering the recording and/or music video of a song (a particular recorded performance), and represents the interests of recording artists and record labels. Broadcasters must pay for a PPCA licence (CBAA members save 50% on their compulsory licence fees).

APRA AMCOS

APRA AMCOS provides licences covering the copyright in a song (eg lyrics, composition etc) and represents the interests of composers and publishers. Broadcasters must pay for a APRA AMCOS licence.

Support and advisory bodies and groups
Your station's management

Your Station Manager and/or Board or Management Committee is responsible for the day-to-day runnings of your station as well as upholding the sector's principles, adhering to all regulatory requirements, and your station's constitution.

Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA - that's us!)

The CBAA is the national peak body for community broadcasting in Australia. We are a member organisation, offering support, advice, resources and benefits to our members, as well as lobbying and carrying out research for the wider sector. The CBAA champions community broadcasting by building stations’ capability and by creating a healthy environment for the sector to thrive. If you have a question about anything community radio related, give us a call on 02 9310 2999.

Other community radio stations

Did you know that there are over 450 community radio stations across  Australia? Other stations are a great port-of-call to trade stories and tips with, as well as to work with in collaboration. Use our Station Lookup to see which stations are similar Australia-wide or call us on 02 9310 2999 and we can put you in touch.

Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF)

The CBF is an independent non-profit funding agency that seeks, secures, distributes and administers funding to support the development, creativity and sustainability of community broadcasting in Australia. Funding is primarily distributed through sector grants.

The Australian Community Television Alliance (ACTA)

ACTA is a not-for-profit industry association representing free-to-air community television (CTV) channels licensed by the Australian Government under the Broadcasting Services Act, 1992.

Christian Media & Arts Alliance (CMAA)

The CMAA creates agency for the exploration and engagement of Christ and the Christian Story. They empower and support member organisations to explore and seek ways to communicate and help Australians discover Christ through the media and arts. 

Indigenous Remote Communication Association (IRCA)

Established in 2001, IRCA is currently expanding its role and representation to become the national peak body for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander broadcasting, media and communications industry. IRCA recognises that media practice has an historical and proven role in the maintenance of language and culture, self-representation, community development and cultural safety.

National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters' Council (NEMBC)

The NEMBC is the peak organisation representing ethnic community broadcasters across Australia. The NEMBC advocates for multiculturalism and media diversity and helps people connect to and maintain their language, culture and identity.

Radio for Print Handicapped Australia (RPHA)

RPH Australia is the national peak body for the RPH Radio Reading Network. They champion the rights for all Australians to access published material.

South Australian Community Broadcasters Association Incorporated (SACBA)

SACBA is the peak body for community broadcasters in South Australia.

Southern Community Media Association (SCMA)

The SCMA is a non-profit representative body for community broadcasters. They are committed to the development of the community broadcasting sector and all it involves.