Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice - Review


A new proposed draft of the Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice is coming soon.

The current Codes of Practice are available on our website.

The Review - Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the Community Radio Brodcasting Codes of Practice and who do they apply to? 

The Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice (the Codes) are made under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA).

The BSA is key to the legal framework for the broadcasting sector, including community radio broadcasting licensees who have been granted a licence by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA). The BSA contains a set of conditions that all community radio broadcasting licensees must abide by. It also explains the role our sector plays in delivering diverse media services that reflect a sense of Australian identity, character and cultural diversity.

The Codes outline the operational standards for community radio broadcasting licensees, and also contain a set of Guiding Principles to guide decision-making. Community radio broadcast licensees must abide by both the BSA and the Codes as a condition of their community radio broadcasting licence.

The criminal offence provisions in the BSA, are contained in s130 (4) for permanent community radio broadcasting licence holders and (5) for temporary community radio broadcasting licence holders contain. The civil penalty provisions are contained in s140A (4) and (5) respectively.

2. Why is the CBAA leading a revision of the Codes and hosting the consultation? 

As the peak body representing the most number of community broadcasting licensees in Australia, the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (the CBAA; ‘we’) are leading the redrafting of the Codes, and the consultations that will lead to the final version of the Codes.

The reason a peak body is leading the development of the revised Codes, is because community radio broadcasting in Australia is governed via a co-regulatory system. In this kind of system, our sector is empowered under the BSA to develop Codes within and for our sector, in close consultation with our sector’s regulatory body, the ACMA.

In developing these Codes, we work closely with several other bodies to do so, as well as with the ACMA. These sector representatives include:

We also work closely with:

Pursuant to the Broadcast Services Act 1992 (Commonwealth)(Cth), s 123 (1), (4).

3. Why are the Codes being revised? 

The last time the Codes were revised was 2008. Our sector has changed a lot since then. The revised Codes are being proposed at a time when dynamic changes are occurring in society, journalism and news media, and in the uptake of digital radio technology.

In developing these revised Codes, the CBAA has been conscious to provide the kind of flexibility that allows community radio broadcasting licensees to adapt to changing times and technologies. This has been balanced with a level of rigour designed to ensure the spirit and values of our community broadcasting sector will be upheld. The revised Codes are being designed to accommodate these and future changes in operating conditions for community radio broadcasting licensees.

4. How will the CBAA consult on the proposed changes to the Codes? 

We will seek feedback on the proposed draft of the Codes in two stages – both of which will be public consultations. First will be an open and informal consultation, where we will seek feedback from any person, community radio broadcasting station or other organisation who would like to comment on any aspect of the Codes. We will collate and consider that feedback in detail.

Then, informed by that feedback, we will make necessary amendments to the draft in preparation for the second public consultation to take place later this year, on a final draft.

We must take community attitudes with respect to the following matters into account, so we will be asking about these areas in particular, when we conduct our consultations:

  • The portrayal in programs of physical and psychological violence;
  • The portrayal in programs of sexual conduct and nudity;
  • The use in programs of offensive language;
  • The portrayal in programs of the use of drugs, including alcohol and tobacco;
  • The portrayal in programs of matter that is likely to incite or perpetuate hatred against, or vilifies, any person or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion or physical or mental disability; and
  • Such other matters relating to program content as are of concern to the community.

In the second consultation, in particular, we will ask whether the proposed Codes are suitable to be registered as the new Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice. If the responses produce a majority view in our sector that they are indeed suitable, the CBAA will forward the final proposed Codes to the ACMA for inclusion in the Register of Codes of Practice. 

After that time, the new Codes will become enforceable. Closing the loop in terms of the co-regulatory system, the ACMA will continue to hold powers as our sector’s regulator, including enforcement of the Codes.

We will especially encourage all community radio broadcasting licensees to play an active part in shaping our own co-regulatory framework, by sharing your comments on the Codes.

5. How will the CBAA accept feedback on the Codes during the consultations? 

When the first consultation draft of the Codes is released, you will be encouraged to provide your feedback in either of two ways:

  • Fill in a short electronic survey where you can register your views in response to the consultation questions (as well as providing any additional comments you might like to make), or
  • Lodge a written submission. If you elect to make a written submission, we will encourage you to address each of the consultation questions if you can, as well as providing any additional comments you might like to make on any aspect of the Codes.

The second consultation will be conducted the same way. All feedback is welcome and encouraged.

6. When will the Codes be published and the consultations begin? 

The CBAA will soon publish a draft Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice Consultation Draft of the revised Codes. At the moment, we are finalising our initial work incorporating feedback from the Codes Advisory Committee; Sector Representative Organisations (SROs) and the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF) through the Community Broadcasting Sector Roundtable; as well as from the ACMA, to ensure we have developed a draft ready for consultation.

When we do publish the draft, we will make an announcement via the CBAA newsletter (you can sign up entering your email address here), the CBAA website, and via our social media channels (TwitterFacebookInstagram and LinkedIn). We will be very pleased to invite your comments and we look forward to considering them.

7. What will the revised Codes look like when they are delivered? 

The draft of the revised Codes won’t look dramatically different to the 2008 (current) Codes, and won’t necessarily require significant changes to governance systems and processes, as the obligations remain largely the same. The key difference will be a change in the style, which has been adopted to better adapt to the needs of the community radio broadcasting sector. The revised Codes will be principles-based, rather than prescribing the ways in which community radio broadcasting licensees must act to meet their legal and regulatory obligations. The revised Codes will allow community radio broadcasting licensees to customise their governance systems and processes that ensure their legal and regulatory obligations are met, in ways that make sense for them.

The CBAA continues to encourage each community radio broadcasting licensee to actively manage their governance systems and processes, and provide their workers (including volunteers and paid staff) with the knowledge they require to operate those systems and processes effectively.

The CBAA has a wealth of guidance available for stations who would like help with their governance systems and processes, which are available on our website or by calling us on the details below.

The resource library will be updated where necessary to correspond with the new Codes. We are also developing extensive additional resources, templates and other guidance, ready for the new Codes. We encourage community radio broadcasting licensees to access our resources and contact us if you have any questions.  

8. Where can I find out more about the Community Radio Broadcasting Code of Practice, or governance generally? 

There are several sources of guidance available to community radio broadcasting licensees on how to understand and meet their obligations:

  1. The current Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice.
  2. The ACMA publish helpful resources for community radio broadcasting licensees.
  3. The CBAA publishes a wealth of guidance materials in a resource library for community radio broadcasting licensees. 
  4. The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC) publishes guidance on how to meet the obligations that apply to all charities and not for profit organisations.
  5. The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) publishes governance resources for the not-for-profit sector

9. Who can I talk to if I have a question about the Codes and/or the consulation process? 

Enquiries may be directed to the CBAA as follows:

Phone: 02 9310 2999