Free TV calls for reforms to broadcast licence fees

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 15 September 2016
Harold Mitchell. (Photo: Julian Kingma)

Industry body Free TV has called for the abolition of licence fees and stressed that urgent reform is needed for the industry to remain sustainable.

The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 reduced television broadcasting licence fees from 4.5% of gross revenue to 3.375%. But even with the reduction, Australia maintains some of the most costly broadcasting fees in the world, well above the 0.21% charged in the UK. 

The government said it would consider further reductions as part of a broader package of reforms that include the pricing of broadcasting spectrum.

"A permanent reduction in licence fees is welcomed by our industry, however further reductions to fees are now urgent if our industry is to remain sustainable," Free TV chairman Harold Mitchell said. 

"In the unrelenting new media environment, we need to ensure that TV broadcasters can continue to invest in great Australian programming and transform their businesses to meet advances in technology and changing consumer viewing habits.

"Licence fees for Australian free-to-air broadcasters must be abolished to ensure that Australia is in line with international best practice."

Commercial free-to-air broadcasters invest more than $1.5 billion in Australian content annually and support more than 15,000 jobs.

Communications minister Mitch Fifield has previously stated that licence fees will not be part of the media reform package currently before parliament that seek to amend media ownership rules.

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