76% of Australians think commercial TV is more important than ever

According to a new report, 76% of Australians think commercial TV is more important now than it ever has been before and 89% think its a valuable service.

The report, commissioned by industry body Free TV, also shows the commercial TV industry contributed $2.3bn to the nations Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2019 and employed more than 16,000 people.

The Everybody Gets It report, from Deloitte Access Economics, showed that only 7% of Australians support the possibility of paying license or access fees for commercial free to air and 72% of Australians value the information about products or services broadcast on commercial TV via advertising.

During COVID-19 and the catastrophic bushfires, commercial TV saw surges of 15-20%, which Free TV argues shows the importance of the medium in providing information and support to Australian audiences. News also appeared as the primary reason people turn to commercial TV – 75% of respondents said they trust commercial television news.

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“In commissioning this report, Free TV Australia wanted to shine a light on our industry and its many contributions to Australia’s society and culture. We were also keen to ‘take the temperature’ of our audiences to understand the value they place on this free, universal service,” said Fair.

“It turns out that despite increased competition, Australians value commercial television even more than we expected. Access to local entertainment, news and sport is a very big deal for viewers, with 95% telling us that losing commercial television would have an impact on society, particularly through the loss of access to news, sport and entertainment.”

The report found of the $2.3bn economic activity, the industry indirectly contributed $1.3bn to the wider Australian economy last year, spanning motion picture and sound recording, scientific and technical services, retail and finance. Deloitte also found that the industry facilitated $4.4bn in additional economic benefit in 2019 from advertising.

Deloitte Access Economics partner and co-author of the report, John O’Mahony, said the report showed how important commercial TV is to the economic future of Australia.

“Commercial television makes a strong economic contribution to Australia and is critical to the Australian screen production industry. The sector also continues to drive innovation through its content and use of new digital technologies to remain competitive, but our consumer research found it is the social and cultural contributions of the industry including trusted news, universal service provision and Australian stories that Australians continue to value most from this important industry,” said O’Mahony.

86% of those surveyed think commercial TV supports Australian culture, with $1.6bn spent on Australian content each year. The numbers support Free TV’s argument that ‘outdated’ restrictions and regulations should be reviewed by the government to keep the industry as healthy as possible.

Overwhelmingly, Australians are choosing to consume Australia content ahead of international programs on commercial television. In 2019, all of the top 10 rated shows were Australian, even after excluding sport.

Antenna penetration around the world [click to enlarge]

The report also highlighted how important commercial TV is to regional communities. Australia has a far higher antenna penetration than other countries and 32% of all commercial audiences are regional. 87% of respondents said they highly valued the ability to access commercial television without needing internet access or data.


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