Community radio station Hawkesbury Radio has earned the ire of the media watchdog over its failure it to broaden its membership and better engage the public in its community.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has been forced to issue new requirements – so called “remedial action” – to Hawesbury Radio, which operates licence 2VTR in Windsor, New South Wales, after it was first reprimanded over its lack of community involvement, back in March 2014
The ACMA found the committee operating the licensee were in breach of a legal licence condition requiring all community radio stations to encourage community participation in the operations of 2VTR – a key differentiator between community radio and other commercial broadcasters.
Radio 2VTR was given an extended period to fix its community consultation problem voluntarily, with last year’s ACMA report noting the lack of engagement and how “a group of four Directors (including the chairman and deputy chairman), has held office continuously for over a decade, operating governance of the station to retain control and obstruct(ing) democratic processes.”
However, the ACMA found problems at the station persisted with the watchdog then choosing to issue remedial directions forcing the station to develop a community consultation strategy and structured engagement program, clarify the rules around membership and the way that membership applications are dealt with; and report back to the ACMA on progress.
The watchdog found that if Radio 2VTR fails to comply with the remedial directions and increase membership and participation the ACMA may look to take further action, including suspending or cancelling the community radio station’s licence.
This is not the first time the regulator has reprimanded a community radio station. Last year mature-age focused radio station 4SFM, on the Sunshine Coast, was also reprimanded over its community engagement.
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