Communications Minister Mitch Fifield is expected to very shortly lift the lid on what the government plans to do in terms of media ownership laws, but for some, all that matters is the local content.
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said yesterday in Canberra that the Turnbull government’s media reforms should put “cultural change” at the ABC at the top of the priority list.
Truss wants to ensure the national broadcaster to provide local TV news broadcasts to regional communities, amid all the mergers and acquisitions that will no doubt kick off between urban and regional broadcasters once the reforms are announced.
The Nationals leader yesterday said his party was “very keen” to ensure any changes would come with a fine print that required broadcasters to air local news services.
“We don’t care particularly who owns the stations; we just want there to be a commitment to deliver local services and to deliver them in an effective way,” he said, per The Australian.
Truss added that it seemed “odd” that the ABC was not obliged to provide local TV news and he believed “it should be”.
“I think the ABC should have a presence in regional communities that is capable of delivering not just radio news services but also television news services. And that would certainly enrich the variety and the capacity of local communities to be well informed about what is happening in their areas,” he said.
But the idea of splitting the ABC up, and having a metropolitan arm and a national broadcast, was not something Truss advocated.
“I don’t personally favour a split in the ABC. I would just like their culture to change so that it is a bit less Sydney-centric and capital city-centric and makes a genuine and real commitment to regional communities,” he said, per The Oz.
“To divide it is unlikely to build a stronger ABC, if in fact it is not adequately resourced in regional communities, there won’t be an improved performance.”
With the media reforms expected early this year, Fifield maintains his position, which he expressed in December, that the government had no plans to alter the structure of the ABC.
“But I welcome debate among the community and my colleagues as to how the ABC can best meet its charter obligations, including how it services rural and regional Australia,” Fifield said.
“Like all commonwealth bodies, the ABC must be a good steward of taxpayer resources, continually earn the trust and the respect of the Australian people and be open to public scrutiny.”