Television + radio broadcasters welcome media reform announced by the Federal Government

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Hugh-Marks.jpegA package of media reforms announced by the Federal Government which includes long argued-for cuts to licence fees has been welcomed by broadcasters.
Hugh Marks (left), 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by Nine and we thank the Government for the foresight it shows in providing a more level playing field while removing outdated ownership rules to encourage innovation and investment in local content by us."

"Nine has always maintained that licence fees are the most important reform for our industry. Now that this is being addressed it is sensible to also address the outdated media ownership rules. The two-out-of-three ownership rule and 75 per cent reach rule are redundant and have been superseded by agreements such as Nine delivering regional news through our partner Southern Cross Austereo, and technology advances including streaming services such as 9Now."

Joan-Warner-CRA-CEO_normal.jpgCommercial radio broadcasters have also welcomed the elimination of radio broadcast licence fees, 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 (above), CEO 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,"  Ms 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."
The Broadcasting Reform package, to be announced as part of the Budget, also proposes restrictions on gambling advertising in live sports broadcasts, starting five minutes before the game begins until five minutes after it ends, up until 8.30pm at night.

Marks said Nine recognises the need for an overall reform to benefit all players in the market, and as such accepts the need for changes to the anti-siphoning list as part of the broader process, but welcomes the guarantees that Australians will continue to get their favourite sports including NRL, AFL and cricket live and free.  
"Community calls for reform to gambling advertising is something we are very aware of and while it will cause our business a loss of revenue we will work with our partners to ensure compliance."
Warner said: "Gambling advertising is already covered by the Commercial Radio Code of Practice and existing federal and state regulations, so the industry would like to see any new restrictions accompanied by a national harmonisation and simplification of existing, disparate rules relating to gambling advertising."
Commercial Radio Australia also applauds the decision to apply the same restrictions to the streaming of live sports broadcasts where in the past broadcasting alone has often borne the brunt of any new advertising regulation, creating further imbalance in the competitive landscape.
"While we believe the concern is not with radio but with television and online, we do understand concerns of the community about gambling advertising and plan to revise our Code of Practice to incorporate the new requirements."

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