Both the radio and free-to-air TV industries have welcomed the federal government’s move to regulate a cut in broadcast licence fees for the 2016-17 financial year.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield (pictured above) issued a statement today announcing the interim relief measure, which he said is set to save the broadcast industry $127 million.
Abolishing the broadcast licence fees and imposing a new spectrum charge are key components of the media reform package announced by the government back in May.
Free TV Australia chairman Harold Mitchell said the move provides welcome relief for the free-to-air TV industry, which is challenged by increased competition from large multinational tech and media companies.
“In the internet age, it makes no sense to continue to impose the world’s highest licence fees when these foreign media tech companies pay nothing,” he said.
“Licence fee relief is critical for broadcasters to invest and transform their businesses. It is now up to the Senate to do its part in permanently replacing the licence fee with a spectrum charge.
“It is crucial for Australian jobs and our ability to continue creating great local programming that the parliament passes the media reform package in August.
“If we are serious about diversity of Australian voices, we have got to get serious about comprehensive media reform. We cannot allow local media companies to continue being strangled by outdated media ownership laws.”
The temporary relief measure will result in around $20 million in cost savings for commercial radio broadcasters, according to Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner.
“We welcome the removal of broadcast licence fees for the 2016-2017 financial year,” she said.
“It will allow radio to invest more in Australian jobs and content. However, we continue to call on the Parliament to support the total media reform package, which provides much needed long-term relief for local Australian radio.”
Broadcasters will now need to wait another 40 days until Parliament returns to consider the media reform legislation to allow permanent financial relief for the industry.