Ministerial meeting: Turnbull, Blyton, and Holleran comment

Communications Minister Turnbull’s industry advisory council meeting this week aimed to identify key priorities for the Government’s deregulatory agenda.

How did it go?

Kevin Blyton has told radioinfo it was a meeting dominated by television issues.

“Conversion at the meeting was certainly full and frank. There are some matters that involve red tape reduction for Radio operators which should be well received if they come into effect.”

Rhys Holleran has told radioinfo: “It was encouraging to part of a forum that reduces regulatory burden. SCA is very happy to be part of any forum that evens up the playing field.”

Malcolm Turnbull has sent radioinfo this statement about the meeting.

The media and telecommunications industries are some of the most heavily regulated sectors in the economy.


The Advisory Council on Communications is an initiative to get an industry perspective on key areas for reform and deregulation, to boost productivity and reduce the cost of doing business. [It] was established as part of the Government’s commitment to cut the cost of regulation to the economy by $1 billion a year.

Members of the Council welcomed the Government’s move to free business from the burden of unnecessary and duplicative regulation, the first tranche of which will occur on the upcoming Repeal Day on 19 March before a broader deregulation process throughout 2014.

The discussions went beyond removing red tape and regulation and covered how industry and government working together can provide greater leadership for Australian innovation particularly in the digital domain.

The Coalition is committed to lowering the cost of business, reducing red tape and enhancing productivity and innovation while ensuring that consumer safeguards are kept in place.


In preparation for the meeting, broadcasters were asked to submit their thoughts on deregulation.

Commercial Radio Australia submitted a range of proposals to reduce regulation, including proposals about self-regulation, licence fees, simulcasting (the PPCA dispute), and the role of ACMA. See CRA’s submission here.

The CBAA presented a short submission emphasising the importance of localism in broadcasting. See it here.

Tv and newspaper players wasted no time in making known their assessment of the meeting. A report in The Australian says:

“Nine Network chief executive David Gyngell and Ten Network chief Hamish McLennan were said to have spoken up in favour of scrapping the reach rule, which prevents metropolitan networks from broadcasting to more than 75 per cent of the population and merging with their regional counterparts… The regulation was one of the reasons $4 billion merger talks between Nine and regional television and radio broadcaster Southern Cross Media collapsed last year.

“The anti-siphoning regime, which ring fences sports media rights on free-to-air television, was also discussed. Foxtel chief Richard Freudenstein lobbied for a relaxation of the regulation, with support from News Corp Australia chief executive Julian Clarke but the free to air networks lobbied against it.”

Fairfax Media reports on a range of people who “supported the removal of the two-out-of-three rule, while Seven West Media chief executive Tim Worner was less enthusiastic about such reform.”

The Council meeting was attended by a list of key players in Australia’s media and telecommunications industries:

Ian Audsley, Chief Executive Officer, Prime Media Group
Inaki Berroeta, Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone Australia
Kevin Blyton, Managing Director, Capital Radio Network
David Buckingham, Acting CEO, iiNet Limited
Julian Clarke, Chief Executive Officer, News Corp Australia
Michael Ebeid, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director SBS Corporation
Alistair Feehan, Chief Executive Officer, Imparja Television
Richard Freudenstein, Chief Executive Officer, Foxtel
David Gyngell, Chief Executive Officer, Nine Entertainment Co
Rhys Holleran, Chief Executive Officer, Southern Cross Austereo
Greg Hywood, Chief Executive Officer, Fairfax Media
Andrew Lancaster, CEO WIN Corporation
Scott Lorson, Chief Executive, Fetch TV
Hamish McLennan, Chief Executive Officer, Ten Network Holdings Ltd
Bill Morrow, Chief Executive Officer, NBN Co Limited
Cathy O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer, Nova Entertainment
Paul O’Sullivan, a/g Chief Country Officer, Australia, SingTel
Ted Pretty, Group Managing Director, Hills Holdings
Mark Scott, Managing Director, ABC
David Spence, Non-Executive Director, SAI Global Limited
James Spenceley, Chief Executive Officer, Vocus Communications David Thodey, Chief Executive Officer, Telstra Corporation Limited David Tudehope, Chief Executive Officer, Macquarie Telecom Tim Worner, Chief Executive Officer, Seven West Media Limited

The Advisory Council is tasked to provide advice to the Minister on potential targets for regulatory reform, including:

  • areas of out-dated and inefficient regulation, excessive regulation and unnecessarily high regulatory and compliance costs;
  • expected priorities for, and impacts of, regulatory reform proposals;
  • expert assessments of the reasonableness of costs claimed by industry of various regulatory measures;
  • feedback on the progress of regulatory reform within the portfolio; and
  • institutional arrangements within the portfolio.
  • The MACC may provide advice on broader policy issues relevant to the portfolio at the request of the Minister.

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