Regulating local content on Australian radio: Can it restore local radio in an era of convergence? | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 13, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 1476-4504
  • E-ISSN: 2040-1388



In 1932 when the Australian government established the ABC as the national broadcaster, it expected commercial radio to fill the gaps left by the ABC and become the local broadcaster. For regional commercial radio operators, the idea of the local has been embraced when required and rejected when provided the opportunity under deregulation. When radio was deregulated in 1992, the government anticipated that market forces would create diversity and competition. However, deregulation resulted in a concentration of ownership and a perceived lack of diversity and localism by audiences and parliamentary committees. After a lengthy period of deregulation that allowed radio licence holders to create networks in regional Australia without hindrance, the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cwlth) (BSA 1992) was amended in 2007. The then Federal government, led by Prime Minister John Howard, put in place rather prescriptive legislation that set out the requirement for commercial radio licensees to broadcast material of local significance and provide minimum levels of local content. Out of these circumstances some questions arise. First, did this legislation come too late? Second, what is local in the digital age and how do we define it? Finally, is it possible to regulate local content with the impending arrival of Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB+) into regional Australia? This article examines whether such prescriptive conditions for regulating local content in response to increased networking in this era of convergence and DAB can restore the concept of local to both networked radio and the community that depends on it. Can radio in its networked form satisfy the desire to embrace the benefits of being local?


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