CRA concerned over “absence of regularity neutrality” between commercial radio and the ABC
“The commercial radio industry understands that the national broadcasters are a valued part of the Australian community and media landscape,” says the submission.
“We do not seek to change this. There are many examples of content produced by the national broadcasters that fulfil their Charters and supplement content offered by commercial broadcasters, such as the SBS in-language radio programs and ABC Classic FM.”
The inquiry is being conducted by the Department of Communications and Arts.
CRA has some key concerns, however, for regional commercial broadcasters in particular. These radio stations are subject to local content and music regulations, as they attempt to compete with national broadcasters not bound to such regulation.
It also suggests the ABC’s a lack of need for advertising to gain funds leaves significantly more time to advertise its own services. “The absence of third-party advertising means it has time to promote heavily its own programs and products.
“This places commercial stations at a severe disadvantage, particularly when launching new content, such as podcasts.”
Among its other concerns, CRA suggests that ABC’s marketing against the commercial sector doesn’t reflect its obligations “under section 6(2) of the ABC Act or under the Commonwealth Competitive Neutrality Policy.”
Senate Estimates in May 2018 suggest the ABC had spent $440,000 on Google Ad words and $1.4 million on Facebook advertising in the past year.
This aggressive marketing “appears to seek to erode rather than complement existing commercial services,” suggests CRA.
The submission concludes; “The national broadcasters’ services must not be expanded to duplicate services that the market will create and support on its own.
“Rather, the national broadcasters should be funded to supplement and complement existing commercial services, thus creating a diverse and competitive broadcast market in Australia.”