Governance and Policies
Seymour FM is a community broadcaster, providing a community radio service to the people of northern Mitchell and southern Strathbogie Shires. This station operates in accordance with the CBAA Community Codes of Practice for the community broadcasting sector.
Codes of Practice - Introduction & Guiding Principles
Community broadcasting plays a vital role in Australia as a unique sector operating together with commercial broadcasters and national broadcasters such as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). The sector actively promotes community access and participation and volunteers are largely responsible for the operations of community broadcasting stations. The stations vary significantly depending on the audience and community interest they serve. These stations include those focusing on particular geographic areas, Indigenous, ethnic, Radio for the Print Handicapped, religious, gay and lesbian, and youth, as a few examples.
The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act) outlines the legal framework for 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 Radio Codes of Practice (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 we are legally obliged to follow both the licence conditions and the Codes.
Under Section 123 of the Act, industry groups must develop the Codes in consultation with the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The Codes may cover programming requirements, fairness and accuracy in news and current affairs reporting, complaints handling and sponsorship, among other matters. The Codes outline that the sector organisation representing the majority of licensees will be responsible for coordinating a review of the Codes. As such, during 2008 the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) coordinated the review process.
b. Guiding principles
Community broadcasters are united by six guiding principles. We will work to:
Promote harmony and diversity and contribute to an inclusive, cohesive and culturally-diverse Australian community
Pursue the principles of democracy, access and equity, especially for people and issues not adequately represented in other media
Enhance the diversity of programming choices available to the public and present programs that expand the variety of viewpoints broadcast in Australia
Demonstrate independence in programming as well as in editorial and management decisions
Support and develop local arts and music
Increase community involvement in broadcasting.
c. Legal Obligations
Each community broadcasting station has legal obligations that relate to programming and station operations. The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act) outlines a number of licence conditions and some program standards that apply to all stations.
Key provisions in the Act require community broadcasters to:
provide community broadcasting services for the benefit of the community and not operate them to make a profit,
continue to represent the community interest that it represented when the licence was allocated or last renewed, although a licensee can apply to change that community interest at renewal,
encourage community access and participation in all aspects of station operations, from programming to management, and
only broadcast sponsorship announcements, rather than advertising, which total no more than five minutes in any hour of broadcasting.
Throughout the Codes, community broadcasting licensees are referred to as 'we' or 'our'. The terms are legally binding.
d. Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
The broadcasting regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), is responsible for ensuring that community broadcasting stations meet the licence conditions in the Act and requirements outlined in the Codes. Some other key responsibilities of ACMA are to:
Promote a system whereby broadcasters take responsibility for making sure they meet the licence conditions and the requirements in the Codes,
Make sure that electronic media maintain community standards,
Manage spectrum allocation and make sure that a range of media services is provided in all areas, and
Administer the licence allocations and renewals process, including for temporary community broadcasting licences.
e. Sector Organisations
Community broadcasting organisations exist to provide support and advice to their members. They include national, state and regionally-based organisations and those focused on special interests or communities. These organisations also work to influence the regulatory environment through lobbying, advocacy and briefing government.
None of these sector organisations regulates community broadcasting. They have no legal role to play in monitoring complaints, solving disputes or ensuring that community broadcasters meet their legal obligations. However, collectively they contribute information and ideas to the Codes of Practice review, in consultation with ACMA, and may assist stations to meet their legal obligations.