Media law reforms pass the Senate, CRA welcomes changes

The Federal Government’s bill to change media regulations and ownership laws has passed the Senate, 31 votes to 27.

The Government secured the support of the Nick Xenophon Team and One Nation to pass the bill, with trade offs including support for more journalism jobs to satisfy Nick Xenophon and the possibility of a review of the ABC charter to satisfy Pauline Hanson.

The Xenophon trade offs are incorporated in the bill, while the Hanson requirements are not in the bill and will require other regulatory steps to make them happen.

The last step in locking in the changes will be for them to pass the House of Representatives, which will be an easier process for the government because it has a one member majority in that chamber.

The law changes will lift restrictions on some areas of cross media ownership and bring in a raft of other changes (see our other report).

The Government has thanked the crossbench for their “constructive participation and commitment to ensure these reforms were passed in the Parliament,” mentioning, in particular: Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, the Nick Xenophon Team, Senator Derryn Hinch, Senator David Leyonhjelm, Senator Cory Bernardi and Senator Lucy Gichuhi.

The commercial radio industry has welcomed the successful passage of the broadcast reform bill through the Senate, saying it is “a positive outcome that will bring Australia’s media laws into the digital age and help ensure local media has a chance to compete, evolve and grow.”

Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner has told radioinfo:
“Radio broadcasters can now move ahead with much greater certainty and ability to invest in local content and innovation across areas such as digital radio, streaming and podcasting without the burden of broadcast licence fees. We look forward to continuing to produce and promote the millions of hours of Australian content provided by Australian commercial radio each year.”
A panel of media industry chief executives will provide perspectives and commentary on the implications of media reform and the new media landscape as part of commercial radio’s Radio Alive 2017 national media conference, in Melbourne on 13 October.
The panel will be moderated by Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine and will feature Hugh Marks, CEO of Nine Entertainment, Michael Miller, executive chair of News Corp Australasia, Grant Blackley, CEO of Southern Cross Austereo and Patrick Delany, CEO of Fox Sports.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield will also speak at Radio Alive 2017 on a Q&A panel session alongside ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie, Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland MP and 3AW drive host Tom Elliott, to be hosted by ABC presenter Virginia Trioli.
Radio Alive 2017 will be held on Friday, October 13 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, followed by the Australian Commercial Radio Awards on Saturday, October 14.

A range of views are being expressed tonight on the move, with most media organisations supportive, but some other commentators speaking against the media reforms. Read a selection of views from twitter below.


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