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AUSTRALIAN Content regulation

NATIONAL TELEVISION BROADCASTERS

Australia’s national, publicly funded free-to-air broadcasters are the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and the Special Broadcasting Corporation (SBS), which broadcasts National Indigenous Television (NITV).

FUNCTIONS

While the public broadcasters do not have quota requirements, their establishing legislation sets out their respective functions.

The ABC Charter includes the requirement for the ABC to broadcast programs that contribute to Australia’s sense of national identity, inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community, as well as broadcast programs of an educational nature.

The SBS Charter states that the SBS’s principal function is to provide multilingual and multicultural broadcasting and digital media services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians, and in doing so, reflect Australia’s multicultural society. The SBS is required to contribute to meeting the communications needs of Australia’s multicultural society, including ethnic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

In February 2022, the Government announced a new reporting framework for the ABC and SBS across content spend, jobs and regional aspects. Under the National Broadcasters Reporting Framework, the ABC and SBS will be requested to report to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on their provision of, and expenditure on, Australian content in line with current reporting obligations for commercial television broadcasting licensees. You can read more about this in the Media Policy Statement here.

ADVERTISING

The ABC is precluded from advertising on its broadcasting services, with limited exceptions (e.g. advertisements of its own programming). The SBS may broadcast advertisements and sponsorship announcements on its services, with certain restrictions.

CAPTIONING

The ABC and SBS must show captions on all programs broadcast between 6am to midnight. News and current affairs programs must have captions at all times. Some exceptions apply, such as programs that are not in English.

ANTI-SIPHONING

The anti-siphoning scheme aims to give free-to-air television broadcasters a chance to show major events included on the anti-siphoning list.

Subscription television broadcasters can acquire the rights to broadcast events on the anti-siphoning list in certain circumstances, including if:

  • an event is removed from the anti-siphoning list (e.g. events are automatically removed from the list if no one has bought the rights 26 weeks before the event is scheduled to start)
  • a national broadcaster or commercial broadcaster with a combined audience of more than half of the Australian population has purchased the rights, or
  • seven days have passed since the end of the event.

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