Seven has been found in breach of local content rules for failing to broadcast any local content in Mildura for the 16-months after it acquired Prime Television.
Watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority found while Seven met local content requirement in seven other regional markets it failed in Mildura.
Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, Seven is obliged to provide 100 minutes of local content or 50 minutes of local news per week in the Mildura area.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said, “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.”
A Seven spokesperson said, “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.”
Following the breach ACMA has also accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Seven, requiring it to take steps to begin complying with the local content rules by no later than 4 February 2024.