More delays for Turnbull’s long-promised Media Reform Bill

Staff Writer

Regional broadcasters are “frustrated” and “disappointed” by the apparent inertia that is plaguing the passing of the Media Reform Bill in the Senate.

This further delay – according to a joint media release from WIN Network, Southern Cross Austereo and Prime Media Group – means that regional broadcasters now have to wait until at least May before the Bill returns to the Senate.

The Turnbull government’s long-overdue Media Reform Bill aims to abolish the “reach rule”, which stops any commercial free-to-air TV network from broadcasting to more than 75% of the population.

The Bill would also cancel the “two-out-of-three” rule, which prevents companies owning more than two of a newspaper, radio or television outlet in the same market or region.

Grant Blackley, CEO of Southern Cross Austereo said: “I am frustrated that we are still waiting for any meaningful media reform, despite the rules under which we operate are from the pre-internet and pre-pay television era and are well past their use-by date.

“It’s time to bring on the debate in the Senate and for the Parliament to pass it.”

John Hartigan, Chairman of Prime Media, said: “Over twelve months ago I congratulated the Prime Minister and Minister Fifield for having the fortitude to follow through.

“It is disappointing to see that, contrary to my expectations, nothing has materialised – and we are witnessing yet another missed opportunity.”

Andrew Lancaster, CEO of WIN Corporation, said: “We have been telling parliamentarians for years that the ‘75% reach rule’ makes no sense when news, information and entertainment services are 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.”

Ian Audsley, CEO of Prime Media, said: “The time for action was years ago. We need the Government to bring an end to the lingering uncertainty.

“We need meaningful reform that supports regional jobs and the sustainability of a viable regional media sector in this country.”

The Media Reform Bill was first introduced on 1 March last year and was reintroduced again on 1 September after the Federal election in July.

At the time, Minister Fifield said “it is time for action”, and yet, there has been little to no action to progress this much overdue reform.

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