NSW locks out independent agencies from the state's $78 million media account

By AdNews | 12 May 2022
Credit: Masaaki Komori via Unsplash

The NSW government has ignored pleas to review its $78 million state master media tender which locks out independent media agencies and favours foreign-owned players, says industry body Independent Media Agencies of Australia (IMAA). 

IMAA general manager Sam Buchanan and other industry representatives have met with state customer services minister Victor Dominello and other state officials over the past 10-plus months, calling for an urgent amendment to the expression of interest (EOI) and a review of the process.

The tender has progressed and a shortlist of multinational agencies will soon be announced, with independent media agencies not making it past the first stage.

Dominello’s office provided the opportunity for independent media agencies to be part of the NSW’s Advertising and Digital Communications Services Scheme.

This lists pre-qualified advertising and digital communications service providers and is managed by the Department of Customer Service. However, it does not include media agencies on its list of 11 capabilities, only “digital communications”.

The NSW gvernment’s own procurement rules that all government services contracts above $3 million must include "10 per cent allocated to SME participation” have also been ignored.

“It is now a full-blown conclusion that the NSW Government will not support Australian owned businesses and send the money off to another international economy in the UK, US or France," says Buchanan.

"The EOI process has clearly cut out Australian owned independent agencies.  This is un-Australian and anticompetitive at a time when indies need the support of their government.  It is a terrible message to send to  Australian owned businesses. We are not asking for a free kick, just a chance to compete.

“Herding independent media agencies over to the Advertising and Digital Communications Services Scheme is farcical and only caters to niche digital services and does not even include media agency services.

"The NSW Government has also handballed the 10% SME allocation for its contracts to Treasury, which is another rabbit hole to be negotiated. We are incredulous that the NSW Government has turned its back on Australian owned businesses.”

In August last year, the IMAA implored Dominello and the state government to make the following changes to the EOI:

  • Review and amend the EOI process as in its current format, as it locks out independent agencies
  • Ensure an equal share of government campaigns are awarded to independent agencies
  • Australian owned, independent agencies are included on the government preferred supplier lists
  • To ensure equal distribution and a fair balance of all government campaigns, an independent voice should be secured on the selection board.

A Freedom of Information request from the IMAA asked the NSW government to disclose its advisory committee members, who are advising the government on the master media EOI, which has been ignored.

“If the NSW Government cared to look into the independent media agency sector, they would find a wealth of clever, nimble, and successful Australian businesses, employing more than 2,000 Australians," says Buchanan.

"The IMAA has worked hard to level the playing field for indies, with a code of conduct group trade credit deals, group research and services agreements, a Diversity Council, media owner and industry association partnerships, events, and more to come for our 130+ members.

"It’s incredibly disappointing that we have been shut out of this contract which favours only foreign companies."


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