Is The End Nigh For Content Quotas? Free TV Responds To ACCC Inquiry

Is The End Nigh For Content Quotas? Free TV Responds To ACCC Inquiry
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With both Google and Facebook critiquing the recommendations made in the Digital Platforms Inquiry in the past few days, it seems the ACCC has a much stronger supporter in Free TV Australia.

The industry body – which represents Seven West Media, Nine Entertainment Co, Network 10, Southern Cross Austereo, Prime Media Group, WIN Network and Imparja Television – called on the government to “implement the key recommendations” from the report.

“The Digital Platforms Inquiry Final Report represents a golden opportunity for the Government to rein in these global monopolies, and at last create a truly level playing field for the benefit of all Australians,” Free TV Australia CEO Bridget Fair said.

Labelling both Google and Facebook as “largely unregulated”, Fair supported the ACCC’s recommendation for a harmonised regulatory framework.

“While review processes around the world are revealing the problem, the Morrison Government has a chance to lead by implementing the solutions,” she said.

“Reform of media regulations is long overdue, particularly in areas such as Australian content quotas and advertising restrictions that penalise commercial Free TV broadcasters.”

The end of content quotas?

In the submission, Free TV describes current content quotas as “not sustainable”, specifically in regards to children’s content and adult drama.

Currently, the Australian Content Standard 2016 sets out minimum annual sub-quotas for Australian drama, documentary and children’s programs that all commercial free-to-air television broadcasters must meet.

Free TV points out that similar restrictions were abolished in the UK in 2003 and in New Zealand in 2011.

“It is clear that the obligations and output of local content in Australia far exceed those in similar international territories,” says the industry group.

“This suggests that the expectations of Australian commercial television broadcasters are not set at a sustainable level and that we must seriously consider whether it is reasonable for this industry sector to continue to be regulated in this manner.

“In our view, there is a strong case for an overall reduction in the regulatory settings for Australian content as they apply to Free TV members.”

Free TV recommends the Government conduct a consultation on the specific proposals relating to adjusting content quotas, targeted at “key stakeholders”.

The group’s proposal has so far been met with support from its members.

In a statement, Seven West Media pointed out it spends $2 billion on content each year, 75 per cent of which is on local content.

“These platforms [Google and Facebook] do not invest in quality Australian content and are not subject to the controls and rules we must adhere to, creating an uneven playing field”, newly appointed Seven West Media CEO James Warburton said.

Additionally, Network 10’s CEO Paul Anderson called for an even playing field.

“We’re really proud of our significant ongoing investment in high-quality, premium shows, and how these shows reflect the diversity in Australian culture,” he said.

“We’re really proud of our significant ongoing investment in high-quality, premium shows, and how these shows reflect the diversity in Australian culture.

“In the interests of every Australian, we need to urgently bring about fairer local content rules.”

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ACCC digital platforms inquiry Free TV Australia

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