Media Reform back on the table?
Tim Fischer, the Former Deputy PM and Nationals Leader and now front man for the Save Our Voices campaign has welcomed Minister for Communications, Senator Mitch Fifield who indicated that the Federal Government is committed to media reforms.
Tim Fischer said: “We are delighted that our new Minister for Communications has indicated that he is in favour of reducing regulation, increasing competition and putting consumers’ interests first as primary factors in considering what needs to change.
“We are also very pleased that Senator Fifield has clarified that the Government intends to look for a broad industry consensus to achieve change, as distinct from unanimous support which the Senator said was highly unlikely”
The Save Our Voices campaign is backed by Prime, WIN, Southern Cross Austereo and Imparja – each with either TV or Radio stations in their mix. They are gunning for a change to the 75% reach rule and the two out of three rule. The current Broadcasting Services Act restricts the number of types of media any one company can own in a licence area as well as the number of Australians each television network is allowed to reach.
Save Our Voices argue that the current laws do not account for the internet or the fact that major metropolitan TV networks, internet news services and Pay TV now reach 100% of the Australian population via smartphones, tablets, linear streaming services and catch-up TV. They also state: faced with rising costs, restrictions on what economies of scale can be achieved and increased competition in regional licence areas, regional broadcasters have limited options to manage costs and remain viable.
“Cuts to local content on regional radio and television are inevitable unless our media laws change,” said Tim Fisher.
“Changes to the broadcasting rules are urgently required if regional broadcasters are to compete on the same basis as everyone else in their local markets, and ensure that the big regional issues and important community information continues to get the coverage it deserves for the 9 million Australians living in regional, rural and remote areas.”