Mitch Fifield: “It is absolutely critical that we offer Australian media companies the opportunity to build scale.”
At the start of March, the race was on with Communications Minister Mitch Fifield announcing that the Coalition party room approved the reforms that will see the scrapping of the “media reach rule” and the “two out of three” rule; that restricts any company from owning more than three traditional media platforms in a single market; be it print, radio or TV. 16 Days later, Mitch has let rip at the National Press Club with a strong address : “We must give our Australian media companies the chance to compete against the global media giants they are now up against.”
Here is just one part of Mitch Fifield’s National Press Club address earlier today:
Now that the Government has announced this reform package, attention rightly turns to its passage through the Parliament.
The Government has responded to the Opposition and the crossbench who have asked for an opportunity to examine the detail by referring the legislation to a Senate inquiry. This is underway.
It is clear from the public comments others have made that there is broad support for the removal of the reach rule and for the local content protections the Government has proposed.
But there is hesitation in some quarters about removal of the 2 out of 3 rule on the grounds that it remains an important diversity protection.
I find this a difficult argument to understand.
What is the justification for keeping a rule that pretends there are only three media platforms?
Why retain a rule that pretends the Internet doesn’t exist?
Why on earth would some Australian politicians hold our own companies hostage to rules that do not apply to their international competitors?
We must give our Australian media companies the chance to compete against the global media giants they are now up against.
The task they face is daunting.
The market capitalisation of all the major listed Australian commercial broadcasters is less than AUD $5 billion.
Netflix alone has a market cap of AUD $58 billion.
Facebook’s is AUD $432 billion. Apple and Google each have market caps over AUD $700 billion.
Imagine how ridiculous it would be if, say, Apple were restricted to only selling you a few different products. Phones and tablets OK, but not computers nor TVs and certainly no music streaming.
Yet incredibly, some want to keep similar restrictions on Australian media companies that are trying to compete.
It is absolutely critical that we offer Australian media companies the opportunity to build scale.
You can read Communications Minister Mitch Fifield full address here.