Interim financial relief announced for Australian broadcasters

As the Government works to reform media laws aimed at supporting the viability of local organisations facing increasing global competition in a rapidly changing digital landscape, Communications Minister Senator Mitch Fifield has announced interim financial relief to Australian broadcasters “in the wake of Labor’s refusal to back reforms that support the viability of the Australian media industry and secure thousands of jobs”.

The Government will use its regulatory powers to remove licence fees payable by Australian commercial free-to-air television and radio broadcasters for the 2016-17 financial year as a one-off relief measure worth around $127 million to the industry.

This urgent relief will assist Australian businesses that are under competitive pressure from foreign tech companies and online streaming services.

Labor’s political gamesmanship in the Senate means the media industry is forced to wait another 40 days until Parliament returns to consider media reform legislation.

Permanent financial relief will be provided through the Government’s Media Reform package, which has the unanimous support of the industry, if passed by the Senate as a whole.

Last week, Labor twice voted in the House of Representatives against the entire package, despite claiming they support elements of it.

Unlike Labor, all other groupings in the Senate have been engaging in constructive discussions with the Government which continue.

The Turnbull Government has a holistic and comprehensive reform plan to secure a viable future for Australian media organisations. In contrast the Labor Party has no plan, other than to engage in needless partisanship as they have done with school funding and NDIS funding. 

Commercial radio broadcasters have welcomed the interim licence fee relief provided by the Turnbull Government. 
This temporary relief will result in around $20 million in cost savings for the 2016- 2017 financial year to commercial radio broadcasters providing live and local radio around the country.  
Joan Warner, the chief executive officer of industry body Commercial Radio Australia said: “We welcome the removal of broadcast licence fees for the 2016-2017 financial year.  It will allow radio to invest more in Australian jobs and content.  However, we continue to call on the Parliament to support the total media reform package which provides much needed long-term relief for local Australian radio.”
Broadcasters will now need to wait another 40 days until Parliament returns to consider the media reform legislation to allow permanent financial relief for the industry. 

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