About Australian Community Broadcasting
Why community broadcasting?
The Australian community broadcasting sector is recognised internationally as one of the most successful examples of grassroots media. Community broadcasting provides news, information, cultural content and entertainment to communities defined by geographical location or common interest. The diversity of program content available through community broadcasting broadens the media choices available to all Australians.
Community broadcasting stations are a key contributor to the democratic nature of Australian society encouraging active participation in media production by all citizens and providing a platform for a multiplicity of views, opinions and perspectives.
While operating with a very low resource base community broadcasters are creative, innovative and agile. They are prolific independent producers of local and Australian content at a time when the processes of technological convergence, digital disruption and globalisation threaten to erode our media’s ability to make a meaningful contribution to, and accurately reflect, our national identity.
The community broadcasting sector contributes to, and is an active expression of, an Australia that is an open society, a strong democracy and a vibrant culture.
The structures, practices and values of community broadcasting are increasingly important to Australian society, particularly given the distruptive impact on all media of the digital revolution and globalisation.
About community broadcasters
There are more than 450 community radio licensees and over 50 community television licensees located around Australia. Community radio stations operate in towns and cities across Australia with the largest proportion located in regional areas (41%), a further 25% in rural areas and 34% across metropolitan and suburban locations.
Stations serve the many needs and interests of local geographic communities and/or specific communities of interest - including youth, senior citizens, arts, fine/specialist music, educational, Australian music, sport and other specialist interests, as well as providing specific services for ethnic, Indigenous, religious communities and people with print disabilities.
Community media distinguishes itself from other media by actively promoting access and participation in the processes of media operations, administration and production. Community broadcasting is volunteer driven with almost 25,000 volunteer broadcasters and support staff helping to deliver media 'for the people by the people'. The sector provides invaluable opportunities for community access, participation, training, experimentation and innovation in radio and television production.
Australia's first community radio station was Radio Adelaide (5UV) licensed in 1972. The sector has developed rapidly over its 40 year history.
Over 5 million Australians listen to their local community radio stations each week, while the five metropolitan community television services have a collective estimated national audience of a further one million viewers.
Today community broadcasting is Australia's largest independent media sector. There are now around 500 services provided by over 444 independent, community-owned and operated, community broadcasting organisations.
The CBAA website is the window to Australian community broadcasting. It has information and statistics about community broadcasting, a search facility for community radio services in your area and many other sector resources.
The community broadcasting sector is largely self-funded.
CBF grants form just over 10% of income for the community radio sector. Community radio stations are largely self-supporting drawing support from the communities they serve through business sponsorship (40%), subscriptions and donations (20%) and other fundraising initiatives.
The Australian Government provides some funding support through the Department of Communications and the Arts (DOCA), distributed through the Community Broadcasting Foundation.
> Find out more about Sector Funding Trends.
Licensing and Planning
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is responsible for the licensing of community broadcasting services.
Currently a community radio station can apply for a temporary licence or a long term licence. A narrowcast service cannot be licensed as a community radio station. The regulation of community broadcasting services is covered by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. Community radio and television stations are obliged to broadcast in accordance with the Community Radio Codes of Practice and Community Television Codes of Practice.
The peak sector representative organisation is the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA). There are also a number of community broadcasting membership organisations, including: the Australian Community Television Alliance (ACTA); Christian Media & Arts Australia (CMAA); Indigenous Remote Communications Association (IRCA); National Ethnic & Multicultural Broadcasters Council (NEMBC); RPH Australia; and the Southern Community Media Association (SCMA).
There are also a number of regional and state based sector bodies and community media associations, including the South Australian Community Broadcasting Association (SACBA).