Fifield’s Media Changes Get Thumbs Up From Network Chiefs

Fifield’s Media Changes Get Thumbs Up From Network Chiefs
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The federal government’s proposed new changes to Australian media has been widely applauded by industry bosses.

The changes, announced by the communications minister Mitch Fifield over the weekend, include the abolition of license fees for the free-to-air networks, relaxed rules on media ownership and abolition of the “reach rule” that said a media company could not reach more than  75 per cent of the population. Read more about them here.

Commenting on the package – which is yet to be passed by the Senate – Nine’s CEO, Hugh Marks, said: “Nine believes this total package tackles the various elements of media reform required for the industry to compete with global players in a rapidly changing media environment. We would encourage the parliament to pass all elements in their entirety.”

Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner added: “Seven has maintained a consistent position since 2013 on the issue of media ownership changes. We have called for a broad reform package that will truly empower free-to-air broadcasters to meet the increasing pace of change that we are facing. We believe that the package announced by the Government today will go a long way to achieving that objective.”

The news of a reduction to licence fees couldn’t come soon enough for Paul Anderson, CEO of the embattled Ten Network. “The Government’s package provides very welcome, immediate financial relief for all commercial free-to-air television broadcasters,” Anderson said. “It provides a boost for local content and the local production sector.

“Every dollar from today’s changes will be reinvested into our great Australian content and into continuing to enhance our services for viewers across all platforms.

“Recent financial results and announcements from across the Australian media industry clearly demonstrate that this is a sector under extreme competitive pressure from the foreign-owned tech media giants,” he said.

FreeTV Australia’s CEO Harold Mitchell commented that the reforms were long overdue and current legislation had become outdated.

“Until today, Australia’s free-to-air broadcasters had been paying the highest licence fees in the world,” Mitchell said.

“Repealing the 75 per cent audience reach and cross media ownership rules is vital for Australian media companies to be able to compete in our modern media environment and we urge the Senate to support the legislation already in Parliament,” he said.

Commercial radio broadcasters also welcomed the removal of radio broadcast licence fees that should result in a $20 million saving for the networks.

Joan Warner, the CEO of peak industry body Commercial Radio Australia, said: “We welcome the removal of broadcast licence fees, which will provide a fairer competitive environment and allow radio to invest even more in Australian jobs and content. We call on the Parliament to support this package which provides much needed relief for local Australian radio.”

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