In response to recent decisions about low power open narrowcasting (LPON) services by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Australian Communications & Media Authority has provided new guidance for LPON licensees on how to interpret ‘use it or lose it’ (UIOLI) conditions.
LPON services are secondary to the provision of long-term, higher power community, national, commercial or high power open narrowcasting services available in licence area plans (LAPs).
LPON service reception is always limited in some way. The program content may be targeted to special interest groups, or the services are intended for limited locations.
This may mean that an LPON service is only receivable in part of its potential coverage area. This is reflected in the cost of obtaining an LPON licence.
The Determination of Radiofrequency Spectrum (Low Power Open Narrowcasting Services) 2018 makes parts of the radiofrequency spectrum within the 87.5 to 88.0 MHz range available for allocation.
It also makes certain parts of the radiofrequency spectrum outside of this range available for allocation to providers in specific geographic locations.
The Determination makes the spectrum available until 31 December 2025.
There are 7 licensed LPON services operating between 88.1 MHz and 108.0 MHz of the broadcasting services bands (BSB). It is unlikely that any more LPON licences will be made available in the BSB.
LPON services are limited to FM centre frequencies 87.6 MHz, 87.8 MHz and 88.0 MHz.
LPONs operating between 88.1 MHz and 108.0 MHz are subject to the same licence conditions as the services operating between 87.6 and 88.0 MHz.
The ACMA says if you hold a LPON licence, you must:
- start broadcasting within 6 months of getting your licence
- use it regularly
- keep records.
A UIOLI conditions guide is now available for download on the ACMA website.