Federal Budget brings Licence Fee relief for commercial radio

Still, the industry is disappointed it wasn’t more.

Commercial radio broadcasters say they welcome the announcement in the Federal Budget of a 25 per cent reduction in commercial radio licence fees. However Joan Warner, the peak body’s CEO says, “We are disappointed that the relief is not greater.”

Nonetheless, Ms Warner acknowledged that, “The cut in licence fees is a welcome relief to Australian radio broadcasters, who operate in one of the most intensively competitive industries in the world.”

The cut will be apply to the whole of the 2015 – 2016 financial year.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) Annual Report shows commercial radio stations paid a total of $24.83 million in broadcasting licence fees in December 2014 for the 2013-14 period.

“This has been a key issue for the industry for some time. We need to be able to better compete against global players who are largely unregulated and do not carry the many costs, obligations and restrictions that local radio broadcasters do,” Ms Warner said.

The Budget papers said the licence fee relief is the result of the Government’s review of broadcast licence fee arrangements, which found that the rapidly changing media market was placing significant financial pressure on commercial broadcasters.

A staement from Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield said, “The Government’s decision to reduce the fees recognises that the Australian media market has changed significantly since broadcasting licence fees were first introduced, with the move to online and on-demand content fragmenting the market for media services and increasing competition for audiences and advertising dollars.
“In turn, this is placing increasing financial pressure on Australia’s commercial broadcasters whose main competitors, including online operators such as Netflix and Apple, pay no licence fees.”

Ms Warner said CRA will continue to encourage the Government to implement a proposal by the industry for a percentage of further licence fee cuts to be reinvested towards improving commercial radio broadcasting infrastructure and services in regional Australia.


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