'Australia needs free TV' - new campaign celebrates 60 years

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 12 October 2016
Cathy Freeman's 400m gold medal at the Sydney Olympics brought the nation to a standstill.

Free TV Australia has launched a campaign that celebrates 60 years of free to air television at a gala event in Canberra yesterday.

Free TV Australia Chairman Harold Mitchell launched the television commercial and used the event to remind dignitaries, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and communications minister Mitch Fifield, that licence fees urgently need reform to reflect international best practices.

“We are launching this commercial to celebrate the economic and cultural contribution that free to air television has been making for 60 years, and the unique and special place that it continues to hold in the lives of all Australians,” Mitchell says.

“Sixty years after it started, commercial free to air television is still going strong, with 13 million Australians tuning in every day to be informed, entertained and inspired.”

The campaign captures memorable moments caught on TV, including the moon landing, 9/11 and some of the defining local dramas and iconic sporting moments, such as Cathy Freeman's 400m gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games (pictured).

The event was hosted by Ten's Sandra Sully, Seven's Mel Doyle and Nine's Karl Stefanovic.

In its 60th year, free to air television invests more than $1.5 billion in local content, producing about 60% of all local television and employing 15,000 people directly and indirectly.

The top 40 most-watched television programs are Australian and free to air television is the most trusted source of news and current affairs.

Mitchell warned that with growing competition from unregulated digital media companies, commercial TV's investment in content is under threat from the most expensive broadcast licence fees in the world.

“The licence fees paid by the commercial free to air networks are completely inconsistent with international best practice,” he said.

“They must be urgently addressed so that we can continue to innovate and invest in broadcasting great Australian content for free. Australian licence fees are about three and a half times greater than in the next highest market, which is Singapore, and more than 115 times greater than in the United States.”

Tomorrow, AdNews asks industry veterans Harold Mitchell, Kurt Burnette, Kim Portrate and Adrian Swift for their thoughts on how TV advertising has evolved.

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