1 April 2016
By email: [FOI #1768 email]
Request for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
I refer to your Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act) request dated 27 March 2016, in which
you sought access to:
a document with the total number of page views for every news post online in The
Age newspaper for the past two years. Preferably, it should be broken down into
I confirm that I am an authorised decision maker within the meaning of section 23 of the FOI
Decision on access
I have decided to refuse your request to documents identified in your FOI request in
accordance with subsection 24A(1) of the FOI Act.
Subsection 24A(1) provides as follows:
An agency or Minister may refuse a request for access to a document if:
(a) all reasonable steps have been taken to find the document; and
(b) the agency of Minister is satisfied that the document:
(i) is in the agency’s or Minister’s possession but cannot be found; or
(ii) does not exist.’
The reasons for my decision, the findings on material questions of fact and the material on
which those findings were based are set out below.
Reasons for the decision
The ACMA is responsible for the regulation of broadcasting, the internet,
radiocommunications and telecommunications, in accordance with the functions and
responsibilities set out in Part 2, Division 2 of the Australian Communications and Media
Authority Act 2005
(the ACMA Act).
Although the ACMA does have some functions in respect of online content, specifically
certain kinds of prohibited
online content, it does not collect statistics on page views
generally, nor specifically for The Age newspaper’s online news stories.
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I conducted searches of the ACMA’s electronic file management systems using search terms
corresponding to your request, but I found nothing that was relevant to your request.
You should also note that the ACMA does not have any functions in connection with print or
newspaper journalism generally (in contrast to the functions it does have with respect to
broadcasting content, including rules about commercial free-to-air news and current affairs
Further, I note that the FOI Act gives applicants a right of access to existing documents, not
information. As stated in the FOI Guidelines (https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-
2.29 The right of access is to existing documents, rather than to information. The
FOI Act does not require an agency or minister to create a new document in
response to a request for access, except in limited circumstances where the
applicant seeks access in a different format or where the information is stored in an
agency computer system rather than in discrete form (see Part 3 of these
Guidelines). A request may nevertheless be framed by reference to a document that
contains particular information.
Having regard to the nature of the documents requested, I am satisfied, in accordance with
paragraph 24A(1)(a) that all reasonable steps have been taken to find any relevant
documents that might fall within the scope of your request. Accordingly, I am satisfied, in
terms of subparagraph 24(1)(b)(ii), that no documents exist that fall within the scope of your
I have therefore decided to refuse your request for access to the document identified in your
FOI request in accordance with subsection 24A(1) of the FOI Act.
Your rights of review
Please find enclosed the ACMA’s Information Sheet entitled Freedom of Information Act
1982 – Rights of Review
If you have any questions in this regard please contact me on (03) 9963 6898 or at
Legal Services Division
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