Parliamentary Offices, Melbourne
E & OE
Good morning and thank
you for coming. Today we are announcing a comprehensive and holistic package of
media reforms to support the viability and longevity of the Australian media
It’s a package that
delivers a community dividend in the form of further restrictions for gambling
It’s a package that has
the unanimous support of the media industry and it’s a package that is
unabashedly in support of Australian media.
We want an Australian
media that will survive and prosper. While we might not always like what you
write, what you print, what you broadcast or what you stream. What you do is an
important underpinning for the diversity and health of Australian democracy.
So what we are doing in
this package is abolishing broadcast licence fees for radio and TV. These fees
really are from a bygone era. They were introduced effectively as a super
profits tax in the late 50’s/early 60’s when there was no real competition for
electronic media. Since then obviously there is great competition for
traditional media, from over the top platforms and from services on the
In its place we will be
applying a more modest spectrum charge and the net result will be a boost to
Free-To-Air broadcasters of $414 million over five years. Now these changes not
only give the opportunity to provide a shot in the arm for Free-To-Air broadcasters,
but these changes also provide the opportunity for the Government to deliver a
community dividend in the form of further restrictions on gambling advertising.
What we will be doing
is banning gambling ads from five minutes before a match, a live sporting
events, to five minutes afterwards between 5am and 8:30pm. This will provide a
safe zone for kids and for families. This will apply across all platforms and
it will apply from March 2018.
We will also be amending
the anti-siphoning list. There will be some modest trimming, but it leaves in
place iconic Australian sporting events.
We’re also going to be
providing $30 million for subscription TV to support the broadcasting of
women’s sport and niche sports. And we will also be undertaking a broad review
of Australian and children’s content requirements and incentives.
package also includes the Government’s previously announced intention to repeal
the media ownership laws known as 75% audience reach and the two out of three
rule. And I should point out here that this enjoys the support of the entire
Can I emphasise that
this is a comprehensive package. It enjoys the support of the whole media
industry. And it’s designed to support and ensure that the Australian media
industry continues to prosper.
I should take this
opportunity to encourage and to urge the Opposition to support this package.
There are many issues which can and should be beyond partisanship. So I urge
the Opposition to support this package. A package that enjoys the unanimous
support of the whole media industry.
Finally can I thank the
Prime Minister and the Treasurer who haven’t been prepared to let these issues
be kicked into the long grass. And finally can I thank the leaders of
Australia’s media industry who have been prepared to look beyond their own
legitimate organisational interests to the broader interests of the media
industry and to the national interest, and I thank them.
Can you clarify the situation
after 8:30? What happens then with the gambling ads? What are the rules there?
After 8:30pm the
current restrictions will continue to apply, which is that gambling ads can
only be in scheduled breaks. So what we are announcing today is a very
significant expansions of the restrictions on gambling advertising.
We are providing a
clear and dedicated safe zone for families and for children before 8:30 at
But how is that going
to work? I mean kids aren’t automatically going to go to bed at 8:30,
particularly when their favourite team is playing that night. How is that going
8:30 is recognised as the time point where there are a range of
activities available on screen that cannot happen before 8:30.
It’s the point where
alcohol advertising can be more readily done. It’s also the point that MA
restrictions come into programming.
Why hasn’t the
Government though not banned all gambling advertising from all live sport not
just before 8:30? What’s the rational for that?
feedback that me and my colleagues across the Parliament have received has been
in relation to gambling advertising during live sporting events.
Families want to have
the opportunity to sit down in front of a live sporting event and not be faced
with gambling ads.
things are always a balance between recognising that commercial media need to
have sources of revenue but at the same time we need to protect families and
The balance I think was
tipped too far away from families and what we’re endeavouring to do with what
we’re announcing today is to tip the balance back in favour of families and
Do you expect any
resistance from major sporting codes or gambling companies?
Well it’s interesting,
the gambling companies have actually been at the forefront of calling for just
these types of restrictions.
Wagering Council has been urging the Government to look at this area because
they recognise that there’s a need for change. And the sporting codes, I think
that they’re responsible. And I think that they will accept what we’re putting
How are you going to
measure whether it will be working? Is there a timeframe here that you’ll look
at it and look at the figures and look at problem gambling with young people?
What we have in
Australia at the moment is a code based system when it comes to what can be
shown and when.
What we have asked and
reached agreement with subscription TV and Free-To-Air TV is that they will
make applications to amend the codes to reflect these changes. The codes are
registered with ACMA and once registered with ACMA they have the force of law.
ACMA do periodically
review the codes. The codes aren’t in place for ever. And when ACMA review the
codes there’s a period of public consultation.
Was there consideration
to make this legislation?
We always maintain the
right to legislate these restrictions if they’re not brought about by
variations to the code. But I want to give credit to subscription TV and to
FreeTV and their members who have embraced this and who will willingly present
the request to modify the code. So in terms of those platforms legislation will
not be needed. But of course we’re always prepared to do that if it was
In January the Federal
Government said it had no plans to do this at all. What prompted the change as
part of this media reform package?
This is an area that we
keep under constant review. We listen to community feedback and we respond. We
didn’t at that time have a concrete proposition. Today we do.
Under the changes to
anti-siphoning rules will people watching on free TV miss out on watching some
types of sports under those changes?
It’s important to
recognise that the anti-siphoning list is not an exhaustive and complete list
of every sporting event in Australia. It has about 1300 events on the list. And
what we’re proposing here is the removal of 100 events.
are many events that are not on the list that are on free to air TV and there
are many events that aren’t on the list that are on subscription TV. So I think
Australians can be confident that they will still be able to access the events
that they want. And we have not removed the iconic Australian sporting events
that Australians love.
Was slashing the
licence fees a compromise to get rid of the gambling ads?
We have already cut
licence fees. In the last budget I cut Free-To-Air licence fees by 25%. My
predecessors have also cut licence fees. So it’s been something that both sides
of politics have recognised, that the licence fees are really something from a
bygone era. But what we’ve done is taken the opportunity to not only provide a
shot in the arm for free to air broadcasters but we’ve taken this opportunity
to provide a community dividend in the form of further gambling advertising
But was there a
connection between those two parts in the negotiation?
Well clearly for
Free-To-Air broadcasters, they receive a benefit as a result of the abolition
of licence fees and the introduction of a more modest spectrum charge.
Even after we put in
place these gambling advertising restrictions the Free-To-Air broadcasters will
still be in a stronger position.
Xenophon is holding a
press conference in a little over an hour, what role did he play in this
I had no conversations
on this package with Nick Xenophon. He and I are well aware of each other’s
views on a range of issues. But this is a proposition that the Government has
put forward. And I certainly hope this will enjoy the support of the
How hopeful are you
that these changes to the fee structure could save a company like Network 10?
All Australian media
companies are operating in a very challenging environment. Whether it be print.
Whether it be TV. There are a range of competitors who weren’t on the scene
five, ten, fifteen, twenty years ago.
This package has been
warmly welcomed by Channel 10. Channel 10 welcome the licence fee reductions.
Channel 10 are also very keen to have the abolition of the 75% audience reach
rule and the two out of three rule. And indeed every media organisation in the
country is now on board with that and on board with this package as a whole. As
you all know, that’s not something that happens terribly often. So I think it’s
a moment of some significance.
The networks still
basically explain I understand it is $40 million is that right?
That’s right. At the
moment we would be collecting about $130 million in licence fees. What we are
proposing is the abolition of those licence fees and instead putting in a
spectrum pricing regime, which will return to the Commonwealth about $40
And how will the
government offset the loss of that revenue? You won’t be receiving as much with
the spectrum fee.
In the budget we ensure
that whatever we do if it is a cost to the budget, we cover it in other ways.
The changes to the
reach rule and the changes to the two out of three rule have been before Parliament
for some time, but they have not been brought to a vote. How confident are you
that you will have enough support to get those measure through the Senate.
Well it is a pity that
the legislation has not been passed more quickly. Unfortunately it spent the
best part of about six or seven months in front of two Senate committees. So we
haven’t been able to deal with it. But you are right, it is currently before
the Senate. What
we are proposing is to bring that together with the elements of the package
that I have announced today. Present it to the Parliament as an integrated
package. That integrated and comprehensive package has the support of all
Australian media organisations. Seven, Nine, Ten, Win, Prime, South Cross
Austereo, Foxtel, FreeTV Australia, Commercial Radio Australia and ASTRA. I
think the Australian media industry is in the best position to know what is in
its interests. And they as one want to see this package, as a whole, passed.
Are you abolishing the
two out of three rule to allow the Stokes’ and Reinhart’s and the Murdoch’s to
give them the ability to own all three forms of media?
Well the idea behind
the abolition of the two out of three rule is to give Australian media
organisations the opportunity to configure themselves in the way that best
supports their viability. So I am agnostic when it comes to which organisations
look to partner with other organisations. They are commercial matters for them.
But what we are told, repeatedly, by Fairfax, by News Limited, by Ten is that
the abolition of that rule will create real opportunity for media organisations
to better configure themselves.
Also you should note
that regional TV are strongly in favour of abolishing the 75 percent audience
reach rule, and the two out of three rule. This is about enabling Australian
media companies to be stronger and more viable.
Are you concerned at
all, not so much on the east coast, but in smaller cities like Perth and
Adelaide where Seven West is dominant in the media in Perth, News Limited in
Adelaide. Are you concerned at all on the impact this will have on smaller
Well it is important to
recognise that we are not proposing an abolition on all of the media laws. We
are proposing that the two out of three and 75% audience reach goes. But we are
not proposing to change the one to a market rule in terms of TV. We are not
proposing to change the two to a market rule in terms of radio. We are not
proposing to change what is known as the voices rule or the five/four rule.
Which requires that there be five independent voices in metropolitan areas and
four independent voices in regional areas. So there are still those important
protections there. Not to mention the ACCC and their processes.
Just going off track
for a moment. The Fairfax dispute at the moment, are you concerned about what
that could mean. The impact on those two newspapers and also the Financial
The whole basis of the
package we are putting forward is that we want strong media organisations. We
want viable Australian media organisations. We talk a lot about media
diversity. Well one of the important underpinnings of media diversity is having
strong Australian media organisations. I note that Fairfax has been at the
forefront of arguing for the abolition of the two out of three rule. They are
one of the media organisations, who recognise that there needs to be a capacity
for Australian media organisations to configure and combine in ways that best
underpin their viability.