The communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, looks set to bow to pressure from the commercial TV networks and reduce their licence fees.
The Australian has this morning reported that Turnbull will take the idea of a fee reduction to cabinet if Seven, Nine and Ten can come up with another way to offset the revenue shortfall to government coffers.
The three commercial stations had argued that they deserved a fee reduction due to falling ad revenues and more competition from things such as SVOD – Netflix in particular – the internet and, of course, Foxtel.
Between them, the stations reportedly spend $170 million a year to have a broadcast licence or 4.5 per cent of their annual revenues.
The trio argued that if the federal government was to clamp down on overseas players – namely Google and Facebook – that they claim don’t pay their fair share of tax in Australia.
There’s also been continued talk of reducing media ownership and concentration laws.
Turnbull has reportedly acknowledged the difficult business environment for the networks and has said he is “very receptive to all the arguments”.
The networks also argue that the tighter budgets and revenue constraints may result in them producing less local drama and productions while also having to compete with the SVODs who were increasingly paying big dollars to snare first-release local programmes.