TV networks spend record $1.67 bn on local content

Bridget Fair, CEO, Free TV

The cost of sports rights continues to increase, up 17%. There was also a record investment of $413 million in news programs. 

ACMA’s new report, TV in Australia: Spending on commercial TV programs for FY23, reveals Free TV broadcasters spent a record $1.67 billion on Australian content.

87% of commercial broadcasters’ program expenditure was for Australian content, an increase of 8% from the previous year.

The report also revealed that the cost of sports rights continues to increase, up 17%. There was also a record investment of $413 million in news programs. 

There has been a 16% increase in spending on regional news, despite challenging market conditions and spectrum fees remaining in place.

Mildura Digital Television is shuttering, meaning people living in the regional Victorian town will lose access to Channel 10, 10 BOLD, and 10 Peach on free to-air.

Mildura Digital Television said that while the joint venture owners, Seven and WIN, have continued to fund MDT despite the station running at a loss since its inception, the financial position “is no longer tenable”.

Free TV CEO Bridget Fair said: “Providing quality Australian programming for free to all Australians is part of our DNA. We are committed to bringing Australians the trusted news, live and free sport and local entertainment programming that they love.

“These numbers are a powerful demonstration that Free TV broadcasters see themselves as the home of Australian content. No other media platform makes the consistent investment in our local content year in, year out.”

Free TV has said a number of key policy objectives are needed to support the local commercial television sector, including anti-siphoning laws that keep sport free, no matter whether people use an aerial or an internet connection.

Seven, Nine, and 10 this week also launched a new advertising campaign urging the federal government to amend its proposed changes to the anti-siphoning Bill. The new “Free Sport Is On The Line” ads are running across print, online, and social media. 

The networks also continue to campaign on prominence laws to make FTA apps accessible and easy to find on smart TVs, including on existing devices.

Free TV mentioned Meta pulling out of news deals under the News Media Bargaining Code framework, and asked for policy measures to support public interest journalism. It also said it wants fairer competition rules to address the power of digital platforms that benefit from an increasing share of advertising revenue, but don’t share broadcasters’ responsibility for producing accurate news and information.

Finally, Free TV wants the spectrum taxes paid by commercial broadcasters abolished. It said these are the highest in the world, and 52 times higher than the equivalent per capita charge on US broadcasters.

See also: ‘Bitterly disappointed’: Mildura to lose access to Channel 10 on free to air

Top image: Fair

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