Complaining to the Australian Communications and Media Authority

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What access issues can be complained about to the ACMA?

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has regulatory jurisdiction over television, radio, the internet, and telecommunications. Television is the only medium that has formal requirements and so the ACMA will only hear complaints about access to television services.

Two types of television access issues can be complained about to the ACMA.  Firstly, if it is an issue covered by a Code of Practice (visit our free-to-air television captioning and subscription television captioning pages for details), then the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) (BSA) requires you to make a complaint to the specific broadcaster itself first.

You can do so on our television complaints page. If the broadcaster does not respond within 60 days, or if you are unsatisfied with the result, you may then make the complaint to the ACMA.

Secondly, if the television access issue is covered by a licence condition, then you can make a complaint directly to the ACMA.

In this case, you would be reporting a breach of licence conditions pursuant to clause 7 (o) of the BSA, which states that ‘if clause 38 of Schedule 4 (which deals with captioning of television programs for the deaf and hearing impaired) applies to the licensee—the licensee will comply with that clause’. 

For information about captioning requirements under clause 38 of schedule 4, visit our free-to-air television captioning page.

How to make a complaint to the ACMA

A complaint about a matter which is covered by a Code of Practice, the ACMA will require you to provide details about your complaint, and attach the following:

  • a copy of your complaint to the station
  • a copy of the station’s response to you, if received and
  • a copy of any other correspondence between you and the station

A complaint about a breach of licence condition, you can simply make a complaint in writing to the ACMA.

Fill out the ACMA complaints form when providing details, and then either post or email to the ACMA.

The complaints process

If the ACMA decides that your complaint is serious, it will consider the information which you have provided, and gather information themselves from as many sources as necessary, including the station which broadcast the material of concern to you.

When the ACMA has all the information it needs, it will assess your complaint against the rules.  You will be notified of the outcome when the investigation is completed.

The ACMA publishes most investigation reports on its website and includes a summary in its monthly newsletter and Annual Report.  

The ACMA’s usual practice is to not use a complainant’s name in an investigation report.  You should, however, be aware that some details of the complaint may receive publicity, regardless of whether or not a breach is found.

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