‘Local services are disappearing before our eyes’: Calls for Aus government to save free TV

Lobby group Free TV Australia is continuing its calls on the Government to introduce new laws protecting free television channels and services, in a new campaign launched this morning.

Global deals between TV manufacturers and international streaming giants have overruled local TV services – making the latter difficult, or sometimes impossible, to find.

Free TV channels are asking the Government to introduce new laws that require manufacturers to provide access to all TV channels provided by free local networks, installation of all local TV apps in the first positions on home screens, and free local TV content first in search results and recommendations.

The campaign, ‘Don’t Let Big Tech Take Your Free Away’, highlights the importance of introducing this proposed legislation, to protect Australia’s free content.

“Free local TV services bring our communities together – it doesn’t matter where we live, or how much we earn, free TV entertains, informs and unites all Australians,” said Bridget Fair, CEO of Free TV Australia.

“Free local TV services are there for Australians when the chips are down. They bring us together for our greatest sporting moments, provide trusted news and current affairs and keep us safe with critical emergency warnings and updates in times of crisis. They also provide thousands of hours of Australian drama, documentary and entertainment programming watched by millions every single day.

“But these local TV services are disappearing before our eyes. The TV manufacturers are now demanding free local TV services pay large amounts – up to 30 per cent of their revenue – to even be included on their screens or in the app store. That money would come directly out of Australian content,” she continued.

Fair said the payment demands from manufacturers would make it increasingly difficult to find free-to-air channels on TVs going forward.

“Pay TV providers want you to pay. They want you to pay for content that is often available free on free to air channels and their free corresponding apps. This might be a great deal for TV manufacturers, but it’s a terrible deal for Australians who just want to get their trusted local news services, cheer on their footy team or sit back and enjoy the thousands of hours of great local entertainment and drama programming, all available for free to every Australian,” she said.

“Claims by some pay TV providers that the Government is trying to control your viewing or limit search results are utterly misleading. This whole issue is about putting the viewer in full control, not being served up incomplete viewing choices based on who has paid the most money to be in the line-up.”

Fair concluded: “Free TV has never sought a prominence framework that locks in apps on the home screen. Viewers should be given a full choice of all services available to them, both free and paid, and then be able to choose which ones they want to watch. That is what a prominence framework will do – give the consumer the choice.”

Fair has called on the Government to protect Australian stories and services, by protecting “Australians’ ability to find them”.


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