Broadcasters respond to media law reforms

Australian broadcasters released statements regarding media law reforms which became a step closer yesterday

Australian broadcasters released the following statements regarding media law reforms which became a step closer yesterday.

Network Ten welcomes media reform

Network Ten welcomed the Government’s announcement that it will introduce legislation tomorrow to repeal two of Australia’s most outdated media regulations.

Network Ten chief executive Paul Anderson said: “Removing these archaic media laws is an important first step in dismantling a set of rules that are making Australian media companies less competitive in a global, converged media market.

“Network Ten is now competing directly for viewers and advertisers against large, global internet companies that are exempt from local media regulation, don’t pay television licence fees, pay minimal corporate tax despite taking billions in advertising revenue in this market, and in some cases don’t have a single local employee.

“Meanwhile, we pay the highest broadcasting tax in the world on top of our normal corporate taxes and we are held back by media ownership rules that don’t even recognise the existence of the internet,” he said.

“We welcome the Minister’s comments about addressing the onerous television licence fee regime.

“Addressing television licence fees and updating media laws are essential if we want to see a vibrant, diverse and competitive Australian media industry going forward. These changes are critical and urgent if we want to retain local voices in our media and a local content production industry,” Anderson said.

Source: Network Ten

Regional broadcasters welcome media reform

Regional broadcasters welcome the announcement today by Minister Mitch Fifield that the Government will be introducing legislation to reform the media ownership laws to abolish the 75% reach rule, which prevents a broadcaster from reaching more than 75% of the Australian population and the “two-out-of-three rule”, which limits ownership to two out of three of a printed newspaper, radio and free to air television licence.

Welcoming the announcement, John Hartigan, chairman of Prime Media, said:

“Abolition of the outdated media laws demonstrates the Turnbull Government’s commitment to television viewers in regional and rural Australia.

“The Prime Minister and Minister Fifield engaged deeply on these issues, and have demonstrated they have the fortitude to follow through.”

Grant Blackley, CEO of Southern Cross Austereo, said:

“I congratulate Minister Fifield, who, after extensive consultation, has announced a far-reaching package, which paves the way for meaningful media reform.

“We encourage all Members and Senators to embrace these reforms and support a swift passage through both houses of Parliament. It’s time for the rules to reflect media in the 21st century.”

Ian Audsley, CEO of Prime Media, said:

“I would like to thank Tim Fischer and the thousands of regional Australians who backed our ‘Save Our Voices’ campaign.

“The Minister’s reform package will enable regional media businesses to achieve the necessary scale to determine their own future and start to reduce their dependency on others.”

Andrew Lancaster, CEO of WIN Corporation, said:

“Regional Members and Senators have opened their doors, listened and taken the time to understand the complex issues facing regional broadcasters and the impact on viewers.

“The 75% reach rule makes absolutely no sense at a time when news, information and entertainment services are now being delivered via a diverse range of technologies and from a plethora of sources, rendering it and the ‘two-out-of-three rule’ blunt instruments.”

In accepting new local content obligations as part of the reform package, Lancaster added:

“The new local content obligations strike a sensible balance between ensuring reasonable levels of local content are maintained upon the merger of a regional and metro broadcaster, while ensuring local news services remain financially viable in the meantime.”

Source: SCA, WIN Network, Prime Media Group

NEC’s Hugh Marks wants “level play field”

Nine CEO Hugh Marks commented:

“We have been consistent in our call for full reform for what is very outdated regulation. While today’s announcement starts a path for some ownership reform to us, that’s not the central issue. The central issue is how do we create a level playing field that enables us to compete effectively into the future with the global brands that have entered the market, and continue to provide Australian audiences with the very best free-to-air television service. This needs to be done in a way that stimulates Australian content and Australian jobs.”

Source: Nine Entertainment Co

Seven’s Tim Worner: “Government has not walked the talk”

Tim Worner, managing director and chief executive officer, Seven West Media, said:

“Media ownership changes might be great for the deal junkies out there but they are not going to ensure a strong future for Australian film and television production. You won’t see one more minute of local content as a result of these changes – in fact you will probably see a lot less, especially in regional Australia.

“It’s disappointing that the Government has not walked the talk when it says it wants to focus on innovation and the future.

“These changes tinker with rules put in place by the Howard Government 10 years ago. They do nothing to improve competitiveness or offer better services. The regulatory change that this industry is crying out for is to address the 4.5% gross revenue licence fee that is crippling our ability to invest in local news, live sport, drama and other programming. And that is something that the 70% of Australians who rely on free television highly value and don’t want to lose.”

Source: Seven West Media

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