Radio welcomes Government relief package but warns more is needed
Government leaders have heard media industry pleas for targeted support during the global pandemic, announcing a range of measure today designed to prop the sector up.
Content quotas will be suspended for the rest of the year, $41 million in tax rebates have been offered and a $50m regional journalism program has been created.
“We are acting to offer urgent short-term support to the media sector,” said Communications Minister Paul Fletcher. “At the same time, we are progressing our December 2019 commitment to consult on the future framework to support Australian stories on our screens.
“The Government recognises that public-interest journalism is essential in informing and strengthening local communities,” said Fletcher.
Commercial Radio Australia has welcomed the relief package but said “much more action was needed” to address the severity of the impact of COVID-19 on radio broadcasters.
CRA chief executive officer Joan Warner said its members, including the big four radio networks, are disappointed that hyper-local stations have been overlooked.
“We welcome the move to waive spectrum fees but the measures announced today do not go far enough in addressing the pressures facing the radio industry,” said Warner.
“We are grateful for the one-year waiver of spectrum taxes which amounts to about $1.2 million for radio, spread across the large number of networks and stations.
“Radio is an essential service and it’s vital that we are able to continue to meet local content and emergency broadcasting obligations.
Warner added that CRA is now in discussions directly with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to discuss urgent action to reduce red tape.
“We would also like to see not just video content harmonised across local services and global giants,” said Warner, “but the delivery of Australian music requirements also harmonised across radio and global music streaming services such as Spotify.”
Nine chief High Marks, owned of Nine Radio, responded to today’s announcement by thanking Fletcher and also taking aim at big tech.
“We thank the Minister for his efforts and the measures announced today which provide some short term relief to Australia’s media businesses,” said Marks.
“However, the current COVID- 19 crisis only serves to further highlight the need for urgent long term solutions to the regulatory imbalance between highly regulated domestic media players and unregulated international technology companies.”