Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein has joined the chorus of media bosses railing against the federal government's proposed media reforms saying they are unnecessary and will stymie growth through uncertainty as well as opening the door on political interference.
Speaking at the ASTRA Conference in Sydney yesterday, he said that the government would be better off tackling real problems, like online piracy, rather than imagined problems such as diversity in media ownership.
“It is our long-held view that governments should only intervene where there is clear evidence of market failure or where they can promote investment, innovation and the development of dynamic sectors such as the media and content creation industries.
“One area that does not require further restrictive regulation is media ownership and control,” he said.
He went on to say that the public interest test proposed by the Government to preserve diversity of voices in the media is both cumbersome and unnecessary.
“Under the proposed regime a transaction in the media space could be subject to review by up to four different regulators (the ACCC, ACMA, FIRB and now the Public Interest Media Advocate). This will add delay and complexity to any transaction and may discourage legitimate transactions from occurring at all.
“Furthermore, it completely misses the point of the digital age where a massive explosion of access to news, information and entertainment has come about thanks to the advent of services like Foxtel, which carries 11 news channels, and even more dramatically through the plethora of sources available over the Internet.”
Freudenstein went on to argue that the government “could usefully intervene” in online piracy.
“It is a global phenomenon that has the capacity to devastate traditional content creation industries. Anyone who values creativity and believes that intellectual and imaginative effort should and must be rewarded has an obligation to join the fight against online piracy.
“Foxtel, together with our channel and studio partners, have done our bit by introducing the “Express” delivery of content from international markets.
“We recognise that audiences have a legitimate gripe where highly desirable content is available but there is no legal means to view it.”
He said that the time had come for ISPs and Government to act to protect intellectual property and that an appropriate system needed to be in place prior to the NBN being rolled out saying that “with super fast broadband the flood gates could really open”.