The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) deals with the regulation of broadcasting in Australia, including the enforcement of rules and standards for content broadcast on radio and television, the accessibility of broadcast content, and media ownership and control. The BSA is enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA).
Foreign stakeholders in Australian media companies
A ‘foreign person’ with company interests of 2.5 per cent or more in an Australian media company (a ‘foreign stakeholder’) is required comply with various notification requirements under the BSA. Persons acting on behalf of foreign stakeholders, such as executors and administrators of estates and liquidators of corporations, are also required to notify the ACMA if the entity they represent is subject to the notification requirements. Civil penalties exist for failing to adhere to the notification requirements under the BSA.
The ACMA maintains a publicly available Register of Foreign Owners of Media Assets containing information about the interests foreign stakeholders have in Australian media assets, which include commercial television and radio broadcasting licences, and companies that publish newspapers associated with commercial broadcasting licence areas.
Initial disclosure period
If a person was a foreign stakeholder when the relevant legislative provisions come into force on 1 September 2018, they must notify the ACMA by 28 February 2019 of their company interests of 2.5 per cent or more in an Australian media company.
Change of foreign stakeholder status
Foreign stakeholders who acquire, or cease to hold, company interests of 2.5 per cent or more in an Australian media company are required to notify the ACMA within 30 days of this occurring.
End of financial year reporting
Each year, all foreign stakeholders holding company interests of 2.5 per cent or more in an Australian media company as at 30 June are obliged to notify the ACMA within 30 days of the end of the financial year.
Please refer to the ACMA’s website for further details, to search public registers to identify Australian media companies, and to access to the online notification form.