Convergence review deadline looms with local content quota top of the agenda

Industry bodies and individuals are racing to meet today’s deadline for submissions to the government’s media convergence review which will have far-ranging implications for the screen industry including the rules on local content.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has been open to submissions since July.

Among those already received is one from Prof Stuart Cunningham of Queensland University of Technology who addresses questions around the local content quota for television. Referring to the argument that the best rating shows are local, meaning there is no need for a quota, he argues  :

“The question should be, however, whether such overall levels and popularity of Australian programming would be maintained without the quotas.”

Citing the behaviour of Australian free to air TV networks where they have not been forced to carry local content on digital TV, and also the experience in New Zealand where quotas were removed, he argued: “In situations in which the commercial FTA broadcasters are not required to screen local content they don’t.”

ASTRA, which represents the subscription TV industry, also argues that its free to air rivals should face local content obligations: “If access to public spectrum gifted to these broadcasters continues and is justified on the basis of public policy objectives (such as provision of Australian content) then corresponding obligations to deliver those public policy objectives must be maintained.”

The Australian Content Industry group wants online copyright theft to be addressed, but argues for a cooperative approach with internet service providers rather than to be directly legislated out of the convergence review.

At the time of posting, only submissions received before September 19 have been posted on the DBCDE site. They can be viewed here.


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