Regulatory reforms are coming for FTA TV

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 27 November 2020

The federal government has proposed a number of media reforms to support the free-to-air TV industry hit hard by the pandemic.

The Green Paper, released today, sets out key changes around content quotas for streaming platforms and ways to increase investment in Australian news.

Communications minister Paul Fletcher says the reforms are needed to keep up with the digital era and help TV networks which are suffering from declining advertising revenue due to COVID.

“The media landscape has changed significantly over the past decade, with faster internet allowing digital technologies to generate significant benefits for industry and consumers,” Fletcher says.

“However, these technologies have also fractured business models and rendered many of our regulatory structures obsolete.

“With declining revenues, rising costs and an outdated regulatory framework, the capacity of Australia’s media sector to provide Australian programming, local content and public interest journalism is being challenged. These structural pressures have been accelerated by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, reinforcing the need for regulatory action.”

The proposed measures include:

  • Offering commercial broadcasters the choice to operate under a new kind of commercial television broadcasting licence, with a reduced regulatory burden provided they agree to move at a future point to using less radiofrequency spectrum;
  • Promoting the public interest by using proceeds from freed-up spectrum to invest in Australian news and screen content;
  • Introducing an Australian content spend obligation on video-on-demand services; and
  • Formalising the role of national broadcasters as key providers of Australian content.

The government is inviting the industry to come forward with their views, as well as their own proposals, on the reforms outlined by March 2021.

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