The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has circulated a media release listing Prime Television (Victoria) Pty Limited, a licensee of the Seven Network, in breach of the industry watchdog’s local content rules.
According to the ACMA, “Seven has not broadcast any local content in Mildura during the 16-month period since it has had a regulatory obligation to do so.”
Seven has released a statement in response to the communication, claiming “The breach now identified by ACMA arose out of a miscommunication, compounded by having two different types of broadcast licence in Mildura, one of which is exempt from local programming requirements.
“There was previously no requirement for local content in the Mildura/Sunraysia licence area, whereas all other ‘trigger events’ (that is, following Seven’s acquisition of Prime in 2022) impacted markets that had existing local programming obligations. All other Prime licence areas met the increased local programming obligations.”
The ACMA’s release noted that under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, regional commercial TV licensees must broadcast a minimum amount of local news or other material of local significance, specifying that under the Act, Seven is obliged to provide 100 minutes of local content or 50 minutes of local news per week conditional to its TV broadcast license in the Mildura area.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin has stressed the importance of content for regional audiences, “Regional television audiences are entitled to content that is meaningful to their local area and, in the case of Mildura and its surrounding areas, Seven has let its viewers down.
“This is especially disappointing given a network of Seven’s size and sophistication should have been on top of and meeting its regulatory obligations.”
“The period of non-compliance has remained unresolved for more than a year, to the detriment of local residents in and around Mildura.”
Following the ruling from ACMA, Seven has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from the licensee, which requires Seven to take actionable steps towards compliance with the local content rules by the 4 February 2024.
Seven has confirmed they are recruiting a journalist to produce news for Mildura/Sunraysia.