Free TV calls on ACCC to provide tax offsets for journalism production

Free TV Australia has welcomed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s plans to introduce tax offsets for newsrooms in Australia, to ensure media businesses can invest in premium content.

The submission, sent to the ACCC following its Digital Platforms Inquiry Preliminary Report, welcomes a call for tax breaks in newsrooms, similar to those implemented by the Canadian Government.

Free TV has provided the ACCC with a number of recommendations, including tax-offsets for expenses relating to journalism

The television lobby group also pushed for an accreditation process for news from Australian journalistic sources to ensure they are clearly sited in search-engines, and a Search and Social Code of Practice, run by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which will establish principles the technology giants must follow when writing algorithms.

The submission comes as the ACCC plans to better regulate the technology giants, Google and Facebook, which are seen to have substantial market power. The group, which represents the interests of broadcasters like Seven, Ten and Nine, has also encouraged the new regulatory system, which could ensure the platforms display prices for advertising services, and do not favour their own businesses.

The new access regime, as suggested by Free TV, would be regulated by the Competition and Consumer Act of 2010, and would require more transparency around programmatic advertising, and allow Australian media companies to have control over how content is monetised by these platforms.

Free TV CEO, Bridget Fair, urged the ACCC to take the next steps and introduce a regulatory system which could have an “immediate impact” on the tech giants.

“This would include ensuring that the digital platform did not favour its own business and that prices for advertising services are transparent,” Fair said.

“The ACCC has also belled the cat on the regulatory disparity between media companies and the digital platforms. While we would be a willing participant in yet another review process, as recommended by the ACCC, there are a number of areas where the case for reform is obvious,” she added.

“There are some areas of reform where the work has already been done and all that is missing is the resolve to make the necessary changes. The ACCC should lead the way in these areas with clear recommendations for substantive change.”

Submissions to the inquiry were due last Friday. The ACCC will use the submission to come up with its final recommendations and produce a report on June 3.

The full list of recommendations made to the ACCC:

A new approach to regulation

• A new access regime, administered by the ACCC, should be created under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to regulate digital platform providers who have a substantial degree of market power in the programmatic advertising market.

• The access regime should require the provision of a transparent platform for the trading of programmatic advertising, with clear pricing ensuring that the platforms do not favour their own businesses in the supply chain.

• The access regime should also give Australian media companies control over how their content is monetised on the digital platforms by ensuring that they set the price of advertising around their content and how that advertising is displayed.

• The ACCC should be given the power to act as the arbitral body if platform owners (including news aggregators) and content creators are unable to agree reasonable commercial terms for the licensing of content, including snippets.

• The access regime should mandate the use of software development kits in advertising products to allow genuine third-party measurement and verification of reach claims.

Principles-based approach to regulating algorithm outputs

• ACMA should administer a Search and Social Code of Practice that establishes the principles that the digital platforms must abide by in writing their algorithms.

• ACMA would register the Code only when satisfied that it met pre-defined principles including that rankings must be fair and impartial, and not discriminate against content that attracts a payment for its use.

• News from Australian journalistic sources that meet a legislatively determined accreditation process should be clearly identified in search results and newsfeeds.

Support through other financial measures

• A news production tax offset should be introduced to support the production of Australian news and journalistic content.

• Other financial measures should also be supported such as tax deductibility for personal subscriptions and expanding the Regional and Small Publishers Fund. Take meaningful action to address regulatory disparity

• Action should be taken immediately to address the most obvious cases of regulatory disparity, including election blackout periods and outdated children’s content quotas.

An efficient and effective process for taking down illegal material

• Subject to meeting minimum requirements, a Mandatory Standard should be introduced to enable effective and timely take-down of copyright-infringing content, supported by a strong enforcement regime and clearer authorisation infringement provisions.

• The standard should require the proactive identification of illegal material, a quick an effective process for removing content and a process of remuneration for rights holders.

Transparency and control the key to data and privacy

• The digital platforms should be required to be transparent in their data collection practices to enable consumers to provide their informed consent.

• With an effective informed consent regime, the existing provisions of the Privacy Act are sufficient and additional levels of regulation should not be required.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.