Industry body Commercial Radio & Audio (CRA) has called for immediate action to include radio into the Prominence and Anti-siphoning bill.
The legislation introduced by federal government last year aims to facilitate easier access to free-to-air television. The bill will amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005.
In a submission to the Senate inquiry, CRA said the bill needs be changed to, in addition to TV, ensure free, easy, and reliable access to Australian radio on smart devices like speakers and cars.
Ford Ennals, CRA chief executive officer, said it is essential to both the radio industry and Australian communities that there is always free, easy, and universal access to Australian radio on smart speakers and in cars.
“If Australians cannot easily access local radio during emergencies such as bushfires, storms, floods, or traffic incidents, it can be an issue of community safety,” Ennals said.
CRA is asking for regulations to be introduced immediately for smart speakers, which could be applied to connected cars and other devices in the future.
“Our concern is if this Bill passes without any inclusion of radio, then the window of opportunity for this important reform would be lost," Ennals said.
“As smart devices become more prevalent, global tech giants are becoming more in control of the audio content that we can access – they are, in essence, the gatekeepers.
“All Australians need easy access to local radio, whether they are using a smart speaker or driving a connected car.
“Commercial radio provides an essential service – our stations provide local news, entertainment, and information, and we play Australian music.”
Regional commercial radio stations are required to broadcast 3 hours of local content per day, and stations are required to play a quota of Australian music, depending on their category.
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