Another day another senior TV executive prodding the Turnbull government to overturn the media laws.
In the latest instalment, Network Ten chairman David Gordon has called for Foxtel (who recently was allowed to buy 15 per cent of the broadcaster) to be allowed to buy Ten outright.
Gordon gave an interview to Fairfax Media after Ten’s AGM yesterday where it was also announced that Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein had been appointed to the Ten board.
Ten was too small a player in a huge media market and needed Foxtel (that is half owned by News) to survive, Gordon said. However, the current “two out of three” media ownership laws prevent this from happening. Gordon believed the laws were no longer relevant and needed to be urgently addressed by the government.
“The rationale no longer exists, it’s no longer possible to say that [owning more than] two out of three [traditional media] creates an imbalance in a marketplace when you look at the number of people who are taking their news and getting their content out of sources that are not broadcast, radio or newspapers,” Gordon told Fairfax.
“We would just be very keen to see decisions taken and action affected as soon as possible,” he said.
Any media ownership changes are also likely to include demands from the free-to-air players to have their licence fees reduced. Their argument being that the new SVOD competitors don’t have to pay them. Gordon also agitated for them to be reduced.
“Perversely, we are competing against large and well-funded online competitors that pay no licence fees, and many that pay little or no tax in Australia. We pay licence fees to government of 4.5 per cent of our revenue. That is on top of normal corporate taxes and meeting the enormous cost of regulation, including the Australian content obligations,” the said.
“The costs associated with meeting those Australian content obligations continue to rise and, at the same time, it is becoming harder to monetise that content due to audience fragmentation.”