Those hoping the Turnbull governments’ much-vaunted talk about a shake-up in the media ownership laws would happen anytime before Christmas are going to be disappointed with news today that nothing will happen until at least the first quarter of 2016.
Apparently, the government has bigger issues on at the moment – see terrorism and national security – and have put any proposed changes on the back-burner. The changes were to be discussed in a cabinet meeting this week.
Fairfax Media is this morning reporting that the earliest the “two out of three rule” would be debated would be late December meaning any changes would not be ready until Parliament returned in the new year. The rule means a media company can’t own a TV network, newspaper and a radio network in Australia.
This is bad news for the media players who are already jockeying for positions with the bigger players reportedly eyeing regionals particularly in TV.
It is also understood that the federal government is looking at the enormous license fees that the free-to-air stations have to pay. Seven, Nine and Ten claim the fees are unfair as they are not paid by their new SVOD competitors such as Netflix.
Too, the free-to-air players believe that the cost of the fees means there’s little money left over to make drama shows – a costly affair if things don’t rate – and this obviously has a number of spin-off consequences to local production houses.
Arguably the first to move in any media shake-up would be the German-owned Bauer Media who is reportedly eyeing up Southern Cross Austereo. While Fairfax Media is also reporting that a number of local media firms could be making themselves particularly attractive to overseas buyers due to the plummeting Aussie dollar.