Commercial Radio Australia Weighs In On ACCC Preliminary Report

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Peak industry body Commercial Radio Australia has proposed a range of measures to “protect broadcasters’ content and limit the ability of the global tech giants to use their market power to unfairly erode the business model of commercial radio stations”.

In the growing media fervour surrounding the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s Digital Platforms Inquiry, Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) has added its name to the list of bodies looking to stand up in defence of the old guard.

In its submission to the ACCC’s preliminary report, CRA called for stronger protections to limit third parties from benefiting from Australian radio content, including live radio streams and podcasts, without the permission of the content owners.

The submission said: “CRA submits that large digital platforms should be independently monitored — with the Commission setting terms and conditions of access — to ensure that they do not use their market power to favour their own businesses or to divert consumers from the websites of content creators, thus appropriating revenue and reducing competition in the supply of media content”.

Chief executive officer Joan Warner said CRA supports the introduction of a Mandatory Standard to enable the timely take-down of copyright-infringing content and further recommended the standard should include hyperlinks to radio station “listen live” websites.

“Commercial radio stations are increasingly directing their resources towards the removal of their intellectual property from third-party aggregator sites and mobile apps,” Warner said.

“Typically, such sites provide ‘listen live’ links to station broadcasts or enable consumers to access stations’ podcasts.

“This diverts traffic — and ultimately advertising revenue — away from the stations’ own websites.

“We urge the Commission to address this issue in the proposed Mandatory Standard, by requiring digital platforms to remove hyperlinks to copyright protected content at the request of the rights holder”.

CRA also recommended that the ACCC’s proposed separate review to develop an overarching regulatory framework for all platforms should include a focus on how local content obligations and Australian music requirements are spread across various platforms.

Digital platforms currently have no local content obligations, while commercial radio is subject to numerous requirements under the Commercial Radio Code of Practice and the Broadcasting Services Act.

CRA again urged regulators to take immediate action on “glaring” regulatory inequalities such as the election advertising blackout rule, which bans radio from broadcasting political advertising from the Wednesday before polling day.

The submission strongly rejected Facebook and Google’s claims that their ads are verifiable and said there was currently no regulatory means of holding such platforms to account regarding their claims of audience size.

CRA said a reliable digital audience measurement methodology should be imposed on digital platforms as a condition of access, and the collection of data be conducted by an independent third party.

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