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CHANNEL 7 found by ACMA to be in breach of local content rules for Mildura

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It was revealed today following a statement released by ACMA, that since acquiring Prime Television, Channel 7 had not met its obligation to broadcast any local content in the Mildura area.

The Seven Network completed their acquisition of longtime regional affiliate Prime7 (Prime Media Group) in late 2021, which included its various licenses in Regional Victoria, Regional New South Wales, Canberra and Regional Western Australia with local news services subsequently rebranded to 7 News Local in mid 2022.

The statement provided by ACMA reads:

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found Prime Television (Victoria) Pty Limited, a licensee of the Seven Network, in breach of the local content rules.

Seven has not broadcast any local content in Mildura during the 16-month period since it has had a regulatory obligation to do so.

The requirement for Seven to provide local content in the Mildura area was triggered when Seven acquired the Prime regional television network in December 2021. The local content rules began to apply to the Mildura service and to former Prime services acquired by Seven in other regional markets from July 2022. This was the first time these rules were triggered following a network acquisition. Seven met the local content requirement for its television services in seven other regional markets.

Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, regional commercial TV licensees must broadcast a minimum amount of local news or other material of local significance. Seven is obliged to provide 100 minutes of local content or 50 minutes of local news per week as a condition of its licence to broadcast TV in the Mildura area.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said local content is hugely important 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.”

Non-compliance was discovered by the ACMA after reviewing compliance reports submitted by Seven.

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Following this breach by Seven, the ACMA has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from the licensee, requiring it to take steps to begin complying with the local content rules by no later than 4 February 2024.

Responding to the findings released today, Seven issued the following statement:

“In response to communication from the ACMA relating to an undertaking by Seven to hire one journalist for the Mildura/Sunraysia licence area.”

“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. Seven is now recruiting a journalist to produce news for Mildura/Sunraysia.”

“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.”

“Every week, Seven broadcasts more than 170 news and public affairs bulletins across the capital cities and regional Australia, more than any other commercial TV network.”

The programming requirements will likely consist of local news and weather updates for the Mildura / Sunraysia area, presented from 7 News Local’s studios in Canberra, which would remain consistent with other regional Victoria licence areas.

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Kyle Laidlaw
Kyle Laidlaw
An avid media enthusiast of more than 10 years, Kyle regularly follows all things TV related, both in Australia and overseas with a particular interest in local free-to-air scheduling and new show commissions.


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