Ten argues for holistic media reform not “piecemeal tinkering”

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 16 December 2015

Ten has defended the free to air (FTA) television market, with CEO Paul Anderson saying “TV has not died” while arguing that holistic media reform needs to be on the cards in 2016.

The network was presenting its annual general meeting presentation today (Wednesday) in Sydney, with Anderson noting that there has been a lot of attention this year focused on the challenges that television faces in a digital world.

“Television has seen a small audience decline in total this year, but before critics write our eulogy, they should remember their media history,” Anderson said.

“Some people were quick to write off FTA TV when the home video market emerged, predicting it would drive people away from FTA TV. They were of course wrong.

“The same predictions of doom were made when subscription TV emerged and again when DVDs became a mass market product.

“Of course FTA TV audiences rise and fall. But TV has not died. Far from it.”

Instead, Anderson said television still has large, immediate impact and reach, unlike another other mass medium.

However, chairman David Gordon pointed to the “dynamic and highly competitive environment” television operates in, with the need for media reform.

Gordon said the current laws were drawn up in a different era, based on technology that existed 40 years ago. As a result, it now acts to limit the growth for FTA networks.

“The ownership and control provision in the Broadcasting Services Act are outdated, ineffective and only apply to three types of media platforms: terrestrial TV, terrestrial radio and printed newspapers,” Gordon said.

“We are hopeful that next year will finally see the removal of both the two out of three rule and the 75% reach rule, and not a piecemeal tinkering that would only create a new set of distortion and continue to impede our ability to compete.”

In addition, Gordon spoke out against the licence fees television pays, which amount to roughly 4.5% of Ten's revenue, on top of corporate taxes and meeting the costs of regulation obligations.

“Despite our relatively small population, Australia’s licence fee regime remains by far the most punitive in the world and many times higher than FTA broadcaster pay in much larger markets such as the UK and the US,” he said.

“We are competing against large and well-funded online competitors that pay no licence fees and many that pay little or no tax in Australia.”

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