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Free TV’s campaign to ensure regional Australia won’t get left behind in streaming era

Commercial free-to-air broadcasters’ peak industry group, Free TV Australia has today said that communities in regional and rural Australia deserve assurances that their TV services will have a sustainable future.

According to the research conducted by C|T Group for Free TV Australia, showed that 78% of survey respondents from those areas said that a free-to-air service is crucial in communities which might not have a strong internet connection.

Off the back of this research, Free TV has today released a regional television campaign, Free. For Everyone., that will be broadcast across Australia in the coming weeks. 

The campaign will run until the election across multiple platforms to regional audiences including OOH.

Free TV Australia chief executive, Bridget Fair, commented that with the TV sector evolving rapidly, it was critical to ensure broadcasting policy supports secure access to news and sport for all Australians. 

“Events at home and abroad over recent years have underlined how important it is for regional and rural communities to be well served with reliable TV services on a robust commercial footing,” Fair said. 

“We are living through an age of great innovation in the delivery of TV services, especially through the new streaming platforms. Clarity from government is essential to ensure the people of regional and rural Australia will be able to access these services far into the future.” 

Commercial networks serving regional communities face a range of uncertainties, including the status of unfair spectrum taxes that far exceed those in other countries around the world. 

“The government introduced a $40 million broadcasting spectrum tax in 2017 that disproportionately affects regional broadcasters,” Fair said. 

“Instead of meeting their commitment to review the level of the tax, the Government has only offered a two-year band-aid extension of the regional support payment. These payments must be made permanent, and the level of the tax brought back into line with international best practice. The current uncertainty is untenable.”

The research also found that 81% of regional and rural voters value Free TV services, and 64% of voters would be concerned if free-to-air television was only available over the internet.

In addition, 67% of voters agree that free sport on television is in the public interest. People in regional and rural Australia are also disproportionately affected by patchy internet services. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) study released in December showed that NBN’s service in regional Australia achieved only 44.8% of advertised speeds. Users in metro areas achieved 84.9% of advertised speeds. 

“Equal access to news and sport for all Australians is something we can all say we support, but that needs to be backed up by government action,” Fair said. “The needs of people in regional and rural Australia need to be addressed in our broadcasting legislation – we cannot keep kicking the can down the road.” 

As part of its Free. For Everyone. campaign Free TV Australia is also seeking an urgent review of the sports anti-siphoning list, and new regulations to force TV manufacturers to ensure that Australian media services are easy to find on smart TVs that are controlled by global operating systems. 

“This is about access to the news and sport services that people deserve, and about guaranteeing a sustainable future for the commercial broadcasters that work tirelessly to serve their communities. TV delivers moments of national unity like no other medium, and the legislative framework for broadcasting should reflect Australian values by offering fair and equitable access for everyone,” Fair added.

Free TV Australia members are Nine Entertainment Co, Network Ten, Prime Media Group, Seven West Media, Southern Cross Austereo, WIN Network and Imparja Television.

Methodology – 1492 people were included in this study and conducted between 14-21 October 2021.

Credits:

Client – Free TV Australia
TVC – Red Engine – 7 West Media
Creative concepting, OOH & digital – C|T Group
Media – Love Media

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