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TV chiefs push for wider changes to media ownership laws

Tim Worner

Tim Worner

CEO’s at Australia’s two major commercial TV networks say the government’s proposed changes to media ownership laws are piecemeal and won’t provide true reform, while pushing for the abolition of broadcast license fees in order to compete here with global internet companies.

Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner, who has been lobbying for more far reaching changes, said that today’s agreement by the Liberal and National Party to repeal the reach and two out of three rules “might be great for the deal junkies out there but they are not going to ensure a strong future for Australian film and television production”.

“It’s disappointing that the Government has not walked the talk when it says it wants to focus on innovation and the future,” Worner said.

“These changes tinker with rules put in place by the Howard Government 10 years ago. They do nothing to improve competitiveness or offer better services. The regulatory change that this industry is crying out for is to address the 4.5 per cent gross revenue licence fee that is crippling our ability to invest in local news, live sport, drama and other programming. And that is something that the 70 per cent of Australians who rely on free television highly value and don’t want to lose.

viewers “won’t see one more minute of local content as a result of these changes, in fact you will probably see a lot less, especially in regional Australia” – Tim Worner, Seven West Media.

He warned that under the proposed changes viewers “won’t see one more minute of local content as a result of these changes, in fact you will probably see a lot less, especially in regional Australia”.

Network Ten CEO Paul Anderson welcomed the changes , which would allow News Corp to take control of Network Ten as one in a raft of possible merger and acquisition deals, but said they were just a “first step” in media law reform.

“Removing these archaic media laws is an important first step in dismantling a set of rules that are making Australian media companies less competitive in a global, converged media market.,” Anderson said.

“Ten Network is now competing directly for viewers and advertisers against large, global internet companies that are exempt from local media regulation, don’t pay television licence fees, pay minimal corporate tax despite taking billions in advertising revenue in this market, and in some cases don’t have a single local employee.

“Meanwhile, we pay the highest broadcasting tax in the world on top of our normal corporate taxes and we are held back by media ownership rules that don’t even recognise the existence of the internet,” he said.

“We welcome the Minister’s comments about addressing the onerous television licence fee regime.

“Addressing television licence fees and updating media laws are essential if we want to see a vibrant, diverse and competitive Australian media industry going forward. These changes are critical and urgent if we want to retain local voices in our media and a local content production industry,” Anderson said.

More to come

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