Media execs tell pollies reform is crucial to sector's viability

REGIONAL voices are at risk if Australian media companies are forbidden from offering the same scale and reach as global tech giants, our federal politicians have been told.

News Corp executive chairman Michael Miller is among more than 25 chief executives from Australia's major commercial and subscription TV, newspaper and radio companies in Canberra on Wednesday night to argue the Federal Government must reform media laws to preserve the viability of the sector, which supports more than 30,000 jobs.

He told the summit he wanted to directly address "not the biggest parts of the media, but the smallest”.

Mr Miller noted the editors of the regional newspapers in Chinchilla, Gympie, Bundaberg and Mackay in attendance and how they passionately served their communities as Cyclone Debbie tore through Queensland.

"The intent of Australia's so outdated media laws is to protect against the loss of diversity, but in today's world their actual impact has been speeding up the loss of local content and the loss of local jobs and the loss of community spirit,” he said.

"Rather than guaranteeing more voices are heard, our current rules are guaranteeing those voices have no future channel.

"For many communities those who oppose these media changes are not preserving a choice between this newspaper or that newspaper, they are choosing a future where by a community may have no voice at all.

"To survive, regional commercial media has to be able to sell to advertisers a compelling reach and relevance story and in today's ever-competitive market, that means a multi-channel and multi-platform audience.

"Unconstrained by any media regulation or any community obligation, global tech giants offer that scale and reach while Australian media companies are forbidden from doing so.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield also addressed the media summit.

Foxtel chief Peter Tonagh, Seven West Media chief Tim Worner, Fairfax Media head Greg Hywood and Macquarie Media's chief Adam Lang also conveyed the challenges facing their slice of the media industry.

The media reform package is expected to go before the Senate during one of the winter sittings, likely in June.

Key changes proposed

  • Repealing the 'two out of three rule' that prohibits one company owning a TV station, radio station and a newspaper in the same media market.
  • Abolishing a rule preventing any single TV network reaching 75% of the population
  • Reducing broadcasting licence fees for free-to-air television stations and datacasting charges
  • Amending the anti-siphoning list of events that must be offered to free-to-air networks first, allowing Foxtel and pay TV stations to bid for more sporting events
  • Further restrictions on gambling advertising in live sporting events across all platforms
  • A broad-ranging and comprehensive review of Australian and children's content
  • Funding to support the broadcasting of women's and niche sports.


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