ACMA warns 11 radio broadcasting licensees and 1 controller

The ACMA has given formal warnings to 11 commercial radio broadcasting licensees, held by the subsidiaries of Australian Radio Network Pty Ltd (ARN), after they failed to notify the ACMA about a change of control of their licences in the required timeframe.

The ACMA has also given HT&E Finance Pty Ltd (HT&E Finance) a formal warning after it failed to notify the ACMA within the required timeframes of becoming in a position to exercise control of the licences.

The licensees and HT&E Finance are all subsidiary companies of the HT&E Limited (HT&E). The change of control occurred as a result of a demerger of companies in the HT&E corporate structure in June 2016 under which HT&E Finance Pty Ltd came into a position to exercise control, and 6 companies ceased to be in a position to exercise control of the licences.

The licensees and HT&E Finance self-reported these matters to the ACMA during 2020.

Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) licensees are required to notify the ACMA within 10 business days of becoming aware of a change of control of a commercial radio broadcasting licence.

In 2016, the BSA also required a person who becomes in a position to exercise control of a commercial radio broadcasting licence to notify the ACMA within 10 business days of becoming aware of being in that position.

ARN and HT&E Finance have taken steps to prevent a similar oversight in the future. The ACMA notes that there have been no breaches by the licensees of the notification requirements under the BSA for over 10 years and no previous breaches of the requirements by HT&E Finance. However, the ACMA considers the breaches to be serious due to the breaches occurring over a period of 4 years.

The changes in control did not affect media diversity rules in any of the relevant licence areas.

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