Commercial radio services are free-to-air services of general appeal to the public. They are operated for profit and are funded predominantly by advertising revenue.
Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act), the Australian Communications and Media Authority allocates a number of different types of broadcasting licences including:
- commercial broadcasting licences in the broadcasting services band (under Section 36 of the Act), allocated in accordance with a price-based allocation scheme
- commercial radio broadcasting licences transmitted by means other than the broadcasting services band (section 40).
As of 29 May 2009, there were 274 commercial radio licences in Australia, including 106 AM services and 150 FM services. As a whole, the commercial radio industry generates approximately $1 billion each year, with metropolitan broadcasters accounting for approximately 70 per cent of that revenue. FM radio services are more profitable than AM radio services and also account for the majority (approximately 70 per cent) of the industry's total revenue.
A review of the local content, local presence and trigger event requirements for regional commercial radio licensees was conducted in early 2010. A report of the review is required to be tabled in each house of Parliament within 15 sitting days of completion of the report.