The BAI will hold all broadcasters licensed to it by account under statute and contract ensuring that they operate to the terms and conditions of their contracts, licences and all relevant statutes, working with them to achieve this aim and also, through monitoring and enforcement of contractors’ compliance.
On the award of an independent broadcast service from the BAI, radio and television, the successful applicant must enter into a broadcasting contract with the BAI and is obliged to abide by the terms and conditions set out therein for the duration of the contract. The BAI has responsibility for the regulation of these independent Broadcasting Contractor’s.
The BAI conducts performance reviews generally every other year with each broadcasting contractor to review the performance of that station in six main areas of operation (including ownership & control; management & staffing; finance; programming; and, technical & studios); to discuss the results of any compliance processes; and, to discuss any future plans.
The BAI requests each contractor to complete a performance report. This performance report is currently being revised. The performance review may also involve a station visit by a BAI staff member.
The information submitted is analysed including in the context of previous performance and also, the performance of the sector more generally.
The information gathered through this process also assists in keeping the BAI informed of the performance of the sector and likely future trends and challenges.
Monitoring of Broadcast Content
The purpose of this activity is to review broadcaster’s compliance with their Programme Policy Statements and Indicative Programme Schedules contained in their broadcasting contracts; with their statutory obligations for minuteage requirements in relation to advertising and news and current affairs; with the BAI’s General Commercial Communications Code and the Children’s Commercial Communications Code; and in addition for television services, compliance with the BAI’s Access Rules.
The BAI’s engineering staff conduct on-site visits and inspections of contractor’s studios and transmission sites to verify compliance with a) the guidelines and planning regulations issued by the National Disability Authority; and, b) the various conditions of the technical licence attached to their broadcasting contracts.
Variation Requests to Contract
The BAI enters into a ‘broadcasting contract’ with all independent radio and television providers it licenses. The schedules to this contract set out the ownership & control and management structure, the programme policy statement and indicative programme schedule and transmission parameters.
If a contractor wishes to amend any part of these schedules, they must submit a contractual change request to the Authority setting out the change in detail and the reasons why including regard to the relevant legal and BAI policy requirements. Any change to these schedules requires prior approval of the Authority.
The BAI publishes guidance and forms to assist Contractors in submitting a contractual variation request:
Any viewer or listener who is not happy about broadcast content on an independent broadcaster can make a complaint to the broadcaster and if not satisfied with the broadcaster’s response, can refer the complaint to the BAI.
Broadcasters are obliged to provide a complaints page, including access to the Right of Reply scheme, on their websites. The contact details of the broadcasters, including links to their respective complaint pages, are available on the List of TV and Radio Stations.
The Compliance Committee of the BAI can conduct two types of statutory inspections with varying sanctions ensuing depending on the type of investigation.
- Investigation into the Affairs of a Contractor
- Investigation into an apparent programming or commercial communication breach by a broadcaster
These investigative powers were assigned to the BAI for the first time under the Broadcasting Act 2009.
Voluntary Disclosure of Non-compliance
A broadcaster or contractor may at any time report voluntarily to the BAI a compliance issue arising from its own activities, pursuant to the statute and/or its contract with the BAI. This is actively encouraged by the BAI.
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources may request from the BAI report, pursuant to any one of a range of statutory provisions, on compliance by a broadcaster or a contractor with a particular code or rule pursuant to this Act.
Contract-related complaints are generally submitted from other contractors and on occasion, members of the public. They are assessed by the BAI by a simple process of testing whether a contractor has breached its obligations. Voluntary disclosures facilitate engagement on an open and less adversarial basis. It also enables a matter to be addressed quickly and at an early stage.
Contractual Inspections and Audits
The BAI may conduct inspections and/or audits of a contractor pursuant to its powers under a contract between the BAI and a contractor.