Local radio station FAB FM investigated


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Paul Makin from FAB FM said all of the concerns pointed out by ACMA have been addressed. Image: Karlie Brady.

Local Port Douglas radio station, FAB FM, had come under investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) following a complaint that the station was not providing open narrowcasting in accordance with its licence. The investigation concluded a few months ago.

Under law, open narrowcasting services must be limited in some way, such as targeting special interest groups, or by providing programmes of limited appeal.

An ACMA investigation found FAB FM was broadcasting some content to a special interest group, being tourists visiting the Port Douglas region, however the proportion of material targeted at this group was low.

The majority of content was targeted at a wide audience, being residents of the Douglas Shire.
FAB FM’s charter is to promote a thriving, sustainable tourism industry within this region while creating awareness on the importance of protecting and respecting the environment.

Veteran journalist and FAB FM owner Paul Makin said the findings by ACMA were correct.

“All of the concerns pointed out by ACMA have been addressed and we look forward to working with them over the next 24 months.

"We did have to change our style of music because I understand the person who brought this complaint to ACMA also wanted us to stop playing the type of music his network was playing," said Makin.

Makin said this had been carried out and FAB FM is now country music.

“This finding did not come as a surprise because we've been working with ACMA for more than a year over this matter and they did tell a media release was being issued yesterday.

"So it's onwards and upwards from this point," he said.

Of the broadcasts reviewed by the ACMA, less than 10 per cent of automated programming provided tourist information and of its four live-hosted programs, no more than 17 per cent of time was devoted to tourism information.

Makin responded by saying regarding tourism, “we have now dedicated the 107.1 FM band to 100% tourism messages 24 hours a day so visitors will be able to get all the information they need and that's up and running."

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said radio broadcasters must ensure they operate within the terms of their licences or licensing arrangements.

“After a thorough investigation, we found that FAB FM is not providing open narrowcasting in accordance with its licence,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“Licensees must comply with their licence conditions at all times. There are serious consequences for not doing so, including criminal proceedings and suspension or cancellation of the licence.”

The ACMA has accepted a court enforceable undertaking made by FAB FM to take actions to comply with its licence conditions and be monitored by the ACMA for the next two years.

ACMA is an independent Commonwealth statutory authority which regulates communications and media services in Australia. It has an Authority that makes decisions and an executive team that oversees its work.

Read more here.

This article has been updated with a correction and apology.

On 9 May 2020, Newsport published the above article about FAB FM’s breach of licensing conditions. It quoted the owner Paul Makin as saying: “We were in breach, but we were only following the model that the previous radio station was using except with different music.”

Newsport has been informed by the previous licence holders Michael and Helen Gabour that this comment is incorrect and defamatory. At no time did they operate (the then) Radio Port Douglas outside of their licence conditions.

Newsport acknowledges that when the radio station was operated by Michael and Helen Gabour it did an exceptional job in promoting tourism in Port Douglas.

Newsport apologises to Michael and Helen Gabour for publishing Paul Makin’s comment.

The comment has been removed from the above article  

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