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Datacasting licences

Any person wishing to provide a datacasting service, including commercial and national broadcasters, must hold a datacasting licence.

Only Australian companies, the national broadcasters, Government bodies or a body corporate established under Australian law for a public purpose may hold a datacasting licence.

An applicant seeking a datacasting licence must use the application Form ABA 51: Application for a datacasting licence (download an RTF or PDF file)- and pay the specified application fee.

Please contact the ABA for a register of all datacasting licence holders.

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Datacasting licence conditions

Datacasters are subject to television program genre restrictions and audio content restrictions which are designed to encourage them to provide a range of services that are different from traditional broadcasting services.

The types of programs caught by the genre conditions include, drama, sports, music, infotainment or lifestyle, documentary and 'reality television'. These are called Category A programs. There are also restrictions on Category B programs which include news or current affairs programs, financial, market or business information bulletins and weather bulletins. However, there are some qualifications to the genre restrictions which allow datacasters to provide short extracts of Category A and B programs.

The audio content conditions are intended to prevent datacasters from transmitting matter which would be regarded as a traditional radio program.

Internet carriage services and ordinary electronic mail are not subject to the genre or audio conditions, although provisions have been included to prevent the use of Internet carriage services to avoid the genre or audio conditions. There are also provisions for exempting certain content copied from the Internet from the genre or audio conditions.

Datacasters will be able to provide some services without any restrictions.These include:

  • information-only programs (including those enabling people to carry out transactions)
  • educational programs
  • interactive computer games
  • Internet content
  • electronic mail
  • Parliamentary broadcasts
  • content in the form of text or still images
  • electronic program guides, and
  • advertising or sponsorship material.

Aspirant datacasters should carefully read the relevant sections in Schedule 6 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to determine whether their proposed service meets the content requirements.

Other general conditions relating to content on datacasting services also apply. These can be found in clause 24 of Schedule 6 to the Broadcasting Services Act.

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Other characteristics of datacasting licences

Datacasting licences have the following characteristics:

  • they are issued without any entitlement to a transmitter licence
  • they have no expiry date, ie they are issued in perpetuity
  • there is no specified licence area within which the service has to be provided
  • there are no foreign ownership restrictions or other restrictions on ownership and control of the licences

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Transfer of datacasting licences

The datacaster must advise the ABA of the transfer within 7 days.

Datacasting transmitter licences

A datacasting transmitter licence allows the transmission of licensed datacasting services. Datacasting transmitter licences are a new form of apparatus licence issued under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 and are allocated by the Australian Communications Authority through a price-based system. Datacasting transmitter licences will have a term of 10 years with the expectation of a single renewal of five years only. They cannot be controlled by a commercial television broadcaster or a national broadcaster.

The datacasting licence and the datacasting transmitter licence may be held by different people.

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Also in this section

 Other characteristics
 Transfer of datacasting licence
 Datacasting transmitter licences

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