NewsRadio questions at Estimates Committee | radioinfo

NewsRadio questions at Estimates Committee

Saturday 15 June, 2002

In the Senate’s recent Estimates Committee the ABA were quizzed about expansion for ABC NewsRadio. The issue revolved around who should initiate the reservation of frequencies for extra NewsRadio transmitters when Senators discussed the topic with ABA General Manager Giles Tanner. Here is what was said: Senator Tchen-... This is about the expansion of the ABC News Radio service to areas outside the metropolitan area. When I asked the ABA, they told me that this is an ABC matter. The ABC says that the ABA will not give them the frequency. Can you throw some light on this? Mr Tanner- The ABA's role in relation to planning for national services is basically that we are the spectrum planner. The government, if you like, commissions it-or the minister gives the ABA directions under section 31 of the Broadcasting Services Act about the number of services to be made available for national broadcasting. If the government and the ABC are in agreement that a particular network should be extended to a particular place, then what would occur is that the ABA would be directed under section 31 to increase the number of channels available for national services in that area. The ABA's role is really limited to finding the spectrum, if that is possible, on request... We would expect a direction from the government, from the minister of the day... Senator Tchen-When the ABA allocates frequencies, is there a cost attached to that? Mr Tanner-The ABA does not charge the government for the planning of channels for national services, although there is a transmitter licence tax levied under the Radio Communications Act for national broadcasting transmitters... Senator Tchen-Can you tell the committee what the approximate quantum of the fee is? ... Mr Tanner-The information that I have here is that it is $26 a year for each transmitter. Even allowing for the several thousand transmitters that would constitute the national network, it is not a vast sum of money. Senator Tchen-Basically, if the ABC made application to the ABA to allocate frequency- Mr Tanner-If the minister would direct the ABA to reserve frequencies the ABA would do that. The ABA would not respond to a request from the ABC. We would turn to the minister and look for guidance as to whether or not there was a wish to change the section 31 reservation for that area. Senator Tchen-I suppose the initiative would have to come from the ABC and then it would submit a case to the minister and the minister would direct the ABA to reserve the particular frequency; is that right? Mr Tanner-I think that is a workable strategy, yes. Senator Tchen-I am sorry I missed the opportunity to ask the ABC these questions, but no doubt at the next estimates I will ask them that...

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