Broadcast reform: Support from all major media

Unprecedented support for the new media law reform package

There has been unprecedented support for the new media law reform package. Here is a sample of some of the responses.

Seven West Media has welcomed the Government’s package of media law changes announced by Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield.

Seven West Media Chairman Kerry Stokes said: “I endorse the complete legislation package proposed by the Government, including licence fee reductions, media ownership changes, gambling advertising restrictions, anti-siphoning and the spectrum charge. It will give us a real opportunity to compete in the new media environment.

“I am pleased that the Turnbull Government is backing the Australian media industry through these reforms.”

Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner said: “Seven has maintained a consistent position since 2013 on the issue of media ownership changes. We have called for a broad reform package that will truly empower free-to-air broadcasters to meet the increasing pace of change that we are facing. We believe that the package announced by the Government today will go a long way to achieving that objective.

“In particular, we welcome the Government’s move to reduce television licence fees, which have been the single biggest regulatory impediment facing this industry for some time. Removing these outdated fees will allow us to invest in more and better local content and to transform our businesses for the future and we thank the Turnbull Government for taking this initiative.

“We support the proposed changes to the media ownership rules as part of the Government’s comprehensive package. We recognise that the changes we are witnessing in media consumption and delivery are challenging the traditional sector-based regulations that are currently in place and we call on the Senate to pass the bills currently before the Parliament.”

Nine welcomed the package of media reform announced by the Federal Government.

Hugh Marks, Nine CEO, said: “Nine believes this total package tackles the various elements of media reform required for the industry to compete with global players in a rapidly changing media environment. We would encourage the parliament to pass all elements in their entirety.

“The move from licence fees to a spectrum use-based fee addresses the onerous and prohibitive charges we have been facing, at a time when our business is competing with global giants who have no such restrictions in our market.

“This decisive package is welcomed by Nine and we thank the Government for the foresight it shows in providing a more level playing field while removing outdated ownership rules to encourage innovation and investment in local content by us.”

Ten Network chief executive officer Paul Anderson welcomed the Government’s announcement that it will abolish commercial television licence fees effective immediately as part of a balanced package that assists all Australian media companies and addresses community concern around gambling advertising in live sport.

Licence fees and datacasting fees covering 2016-17 (payable in December 2017) will be scrapped and replaced from 2017-18 by a new spectrum-based charge.

Anderson said: “The Government’s package provides very welcome, immediate financial relief for all commercial free-to-air television broadcasters. It provides a boost for local content and the local production sector.

“Every dollar from today’s changes will be reinvested into our great Australian content and into continuing to enhance our services for viewers across all platforms.

“Recent financial results and announcements from across the Australian media industry clearly demonstrate that this is a sector under extreme competitive pressure from the foreign-owned tech media giants,” he said.

“Now that we have a holistic package, it is time for Parliament to get rid of these pre-internet rules to give Ten and other Australian companies a fair go against the foreign tech media giants whose dominance and influence is growing rapidly in Australia.

“This package is not just about Ten or free-to-air television. It is about ensuring that there is a future for Australian media companies – for local journalism, for Australian stories on screen and for a local production sector that provides jobs and training for thousands of Australians, many of whom go on to success on the global stage,” he said.

WIN, Southern Cross Austereo and Prime Media Group welcomed Minister Fifield’s announcement of a package of reforms to the Australian broadcasting industry.

The regional broadcasters congratulate Minister Fifield’s achievement in securing industry consensus for a package of important reforms that includes repeal of the 75% reach rule and the 2-out-of-3 rule, abolition of licence fees, introduction of a spectrum pricing model, changes to the anti-siphoning list and reforms to gambling advertising that cover commercial television, radio, subscription television and online streaming services.

Grant Blackley, CEO of Southern Cross Austereo, said: “We are delighted that the Government recognises the need for meaningful media reform and importantly has acted to secure a consensus view from key stakeholders. The enormity and complexity of the task should not be underestimated.”

CEO of WIN, Andrew Lancaster, said: “The Government should be commended for bringing the industry together to support a raft of changes that includes repeal of the archaic 75% reach rule and 2-out-of-3 cross media rule.”

Ian Audsley, CEO of Prime Media Group, said: “The regional broadcasters have worked tirelessly for many years, detailing the significant structural challenges faced by the television industry and advocating for change. We are very pleased to see that everyone has gravitated to share our view and we now encourage the Parliament to pass the legislation as soon as possible.”

Free TV Australia welcomed the Government’s comprehensive Broadcast and Content Reform Package.

“This package is crucial for Australian jobs and our ability to continue creating great local programming that is watched by millions of Australians every day. I congratulate the Government and Minister Fifield,” Free TV chairman Harold Mitchell said.

“Broadcasters must be able to effectively compete with the giant multinational media companies taking advertising dollars out of Australia. Our industry supports more than 15,000 jobs and invests $1.5 billion each year in Australian content,” Mitchell said.

Commercial radio broadcasters have welcomed the elimination of radio broadcast licence fees by the Turnbull Government which will result in around $20 million in annual cost savings and help counter increasing pressure from unregulated international and online competitors.

The cut, together with a small increase in fees for the use of spectrum, is expected to result in a drop of 94% in the total fees commercial radio stations pay to government.

Joan Warner, the chief executive officer of peak industry body Commercial Radio Australia, said broadcasters were very supportive of the changes and appreciative of the consultative approach that has been taken by Minister Fifield with the commercial radio industry during which CRA has sought assurances that all individual licences will receive significant benefit from the reductions.

“We welcome the removal of broadcast licence fees, which will provide a fairer competitive environment and allow radio to invest even more in Australian jobs and content. We call on the Parliament to support this package which provides much needed relief for local Australian radio,” Warner said.

“However, we are also keen to ensure that all CRA member stations receive substantial reductions in fees paid and so we will be working closely with the Government on the methodology used to calculate spectrum fees for CRA members.”

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