Election blackout laws push money away from Australian broadcasters
The commercial radio industry is calling for an urgent review of media blackout laws before the next federal election.
The media blackout laws stop political advertising on radio and TV three days out from the election, and instead funnel the money into digital spaces that remain largely unregulated.
The system is being called “problematic and out of date,” as it leaves Facebook, Google and YouTube as the only open channels of advertising, which diverts money from Australian broadcasters.
“The rules were imposed pre-social media and are hopelessly outdated,” said CRA chief executive officer Joan Warner.
“This is an issue CRA has repeatedly raised with the Government and Opposition as discriminatory and archaic.”
The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM), in its December 2020 report on the conduct of the 2019 federal election, described the media blackout as no longer fit for purpose, and recommended a review, “with a view that the restrictions on commercial radio and television broadcasters be removed.”
“It’s crazy to place restrictions on local radio stations, but allow a free-for-all for the digital tech giants, with online, digital, social media, robocalls and spam text messages allowed right up to the close of polling on election day,” said Ms Warner.
“This inequitable regulation drives advertisers to digital platforms and has a significant financial impact on local radio stations, hampering their ability to fund newsrooms and journalists at a time when voter concerns about misinformation on social media is at a high.”
JSCEM recommended the ACCC and ACMA work with the Australian Electoral Commission and other key stakeholders to “ensure this important area is addressed as a priority.”
Ms Warner said this action was also recommended in the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Report.