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Broadcasting services in Australia are regulated primarily through the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cwlth). The Act identifies and defines categories of broadcasting services, establishes regulatory arrangements for broadcasting services, and establishes the Australian Broadcasting Authority as the independent regulator for radio and television in Australia.
International broadcasting services may fall into any of the last five categories and are targeted, to a significant extent, to audiences outside Australia, using a radiocommunications transmitter in Australia.
Radio and television licences
The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) is the regulator for radio and television broadcasting, digital broadcasting, and Internet content in Australia. As well as planning the availability of segments of the broadcasting services bands (VHF/UHF television, FM and AM radio), the ABA has the power to allocate, renew, suspend and cancel licences and to collect any fees payable for those licences. Table 12.14 shows the number of radio and television licences on issue in Australia.
Further information about the ABA can be obtained from the web site, <http://www.aba.gov.au>.
Television broadcasting services
The ABS conducted a survey of television broadcasting services businesses (excluding public and community television broadcasting businesses) in respect of 2002-03. This showed that at the end of June 2003 there were 27 commercial free-to-air television broadcasting businesses and six subscription television broadcasting businesses, employing a total of 9,094 people. In 2002-03 these businesses earned a total income of $5,158.8m. Commercial free-to-air television broadcasters recorded an operating profit before tax of $658.9m, while subscription broadcasters reported an operating loss before tax of $451.5m. More information from the ABS survey on television services is available in Chapter 20 Service industries.
According to an ABS survey on household use of information technology, pay TV subscriptions have increased steadily since the mid-1990s, from 5% of households in 1996 to 11% in 1998, 17% in 2000 and 21% in 2002. There is greater penetration of pay TV into metropolitan areas - 23% of metropolitan households had a pay TV subscription in 2002 compared with 17% of other households.