Briefing paper

Narrowcasting television services guidelines and information

11 May 2007

ACMA has published guidelines for the types of services that may be provided as narrowcasting television services under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. The guidelines have been developed in the context of decisions by the Parliament to allow for a range of new media services for Australian consumers through the allocation of two new licences for digital television services.

Narrowcasting services are legally distinct categories of broadcasting services, which have their reception limited in some way ? such as by being targeted to a special interest group. While ACMA must take into account a range of factors when forming an opinion on the category of a service, the content of a service?s programs is the factor most likely to determine whether or not the service is a narrowcasting service.

'Digital broadcasting technologies promise to dramatically change the way audiences think about and use television. These technologies have the potential to enable a broader choice of program content and formats, aimed at meeting specific audience needs and interests,' said Chris Chapman, ACMA Chairman. In a digital broadcasting environment where services can be provided in a range of formats, ACMA has chosen not to adopt a prescriptive approach to the definition of narrowcasting service. ACMA will base its category of service decision on the precise circumstances of that service, particularly the types of programs to be provided and how they will be packaged said Mr Chapman.

Prospective providers of narrowcasting television services are therefore strongly encouraged to seek binding opinions from ACMA on the categories into which proposed services fall. Such opinions can be sought from ACMA at any time and, once given, remain valid for a minimum of five years. Information on how to apply for a category-of-service opinion and copies of opinions that have been provided are available on the ACMA website.

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