Government agrees to four more measures in media reform package to secure support of Nick Xenophon Team

Days after One Nation senators said they would give ‘conditional’ support to the media reform bill, the Turnbull government claims it has reached an “in-principle” agreement on four measures to secure the support of the Nick Xenophon Team.

The existing government package – which includes licence fee relief for commercial television and radio broadcasters, restrictions on gambling advertising during live sporting events, and the abolishment of the two-out-of-three ownership and 75% reach rules – passed in the House of Representatives in late June, and is currently before the Senate.

According to a release from Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, the in-principle agreement includes an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into the impact of the new digital environment – namely Facebook and Google – on media, and enhanced local content in smaller regional markets.

It also includes a further extension to community television licensees, and a roundtable discussion with the sector to discuss its future.

The final measure is a review of Asia Pacific broadcasting services, which would look into the reach of Australian broadcasting services in the Asia Pacific region.

The statement from Fifield’s office said the government would work closely with Nick Xenophon to develop “further policy measures” to ensure local journalism remained “vibrant”.

The government said it shared Xenophon’s concerns about the consequences of fragmented markets, increased competition and the shift of advertising dollars to digital platforms – and how these were affecting independent, quality journalism.

The government said it was not appropriate for “tax subsidies to benefit foreign multinational media organisations”.

“Above all, government intervention in commercial media can only be contemplated when the implications for freedom of speech and freedom of the press are fully understood,” the release said.

“The government considers that any policy interventions in this space deserve careful consideration and extensive public debate.

Earlier this week, the government locked in a conditional agreement with One Nation, which includes a register of foreign ownership interests in regulated media assets, transparency in the remuneration of senior staff and on-air talent, legislative requirements for the ABC around fairness and balance, and an investigation into whether the national broadcaster is breaching its competitive neutrality.


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.