Commercial radio networks make bid for self regulation as part of ACMA review

The radio industry is making a push to cut back on government red tape with Commercial Radio Australia making a submission for more self regulation as part of a review of the communications watchdog.

Listen to the interview on AudioBoom or on iTunes via the Mumbrella podcast. 

CRA CEO Joan Warner told Mumbrella the radio networks had made submissions to the ongoing review of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) which asked that statutory regulation on areas such as advertising be abolished.

Her comments come four months after Southern Cross Austereo ended a bitter 30-month legal dispute with the ACMA over its sanctions relating to the royal nurse prank call death.

“We have said we believe we should move towards self regulation,” said Warner.

“We believe that where there is duplication, for example, with advertising and with the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) we refer all complaints about advertising to them. So why do we need an advertising code? Do we need privacy guidelines when we have a Privacy Commissioner?

“But we are also talking to the minister about media reform, licence fees as well about the review of the ACMA,” she added.

Warner, who represents major radio networks including Macquarie Radio, Australian Radio Network, Southern Cross Austereo, Nova Entertainment and the other smaller radio players, said while they favoured an entirely self regulatory regime they accepted that the community along with politicians would not accept this.

“My honest view, is we should do away with all the Codes (of Practice) but that won’t happen because there are sensitive points about the disclosure standard, about decency and about Australian music,” she said.

“We just think we need to look at what do we need to keep and what is governed by someone else, be it black letter law or another body. Let’s do it in a phased approach, the Codes that a duplicating law that is out there, the Codes that are out there that can very capably be looked at by another body i.e. advertising get rid of them and lets keep the hot button codes.”



CRA also said they were keen for the ACMA chair and CEO roles to be split, although Warner would not be drawn on whether she thought the current incumbent Chris Chapman had been too strident in enforcing the Codes.

Chapman is scheduled to step down in February and Warner described splitting the roles as “just good corporate governance”.

“I just think you then don’t have two different points of view running an organisation. You just have one point of view at the head of the organisation,” she said.

“A different chair and CEO mean you will have conversations about where you go and how you act.”

On the broader push for media reform Warner argued the government was  saying “the right thing” but that real changes might well come after an election.

“I don’t get a sense they are going to rush into this,” she said, noting the current infighting between the TV networks over the reach rules. “Do you pick a winner out of two commercial operators in the same market in the industry?

“I think thats a dilemma for them to solve and I think it may change but they may signal what change they will do before an election.”

Nic Christensen 


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