Media bosses welcome media reforms, thank Fifield, Turnbull and Xenophon

Australian media companies have thanked Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Senator Nick Xenophon, for their support of the media reforms bill, which passed the Senate on Thursday night.

Media owners in Canberra earlier this year, lobbying for media reform

Media bosses have broadcast their gratitude, particularly in relation to the removal of the two-our-of-three and 75% reach rule, which they have said will make the industry more competitive.

They were also thankful for an amendment by Xenophon: a review by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) into Facebook and Google, who are increasingly taking advertising revenue from news organisations, and a fund for regional and smaller publishers.

The media bosses said the bill, with Xenophon’s approved amendments, will make the industry more competitive, and allow companies to survive against the international companies.

Seven West Media

Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes thanked Turnbull, Xenophon and Fifield for the “historic changes”, which would give Australian media companies a “real opportunity to compete with unregulated global players.”

“The government and the Senate cross bench should be congratulated for their commitment to giving Australian media companies a fighting chance. I would like to thank Minister Fifield and Prime Minister Turnbull who have delivered a landmark change for our industry today,” Stokes said.

“I also very much welcome the support for this legislation from Senator Nick Xenophon who has consistently been a strong supporter of a diverse and viable Australian media sector.”

CEO Tim Worner said what had been achieved would “empower broadcasters and publishers” to cope with changes in the media landscape.

Worner: Grateful

“Minister Fifield and the Senate cross bench have placed us in the best possible position to meet the challenges we face head on and we are most grateful for that,” Worner said.

Network Ten

Ten’s CEO, Paul Anderson, said he was relieved at the prospect of farewelling “the world’s highest licence fees and the antiquated ownership laws”.

Anderson: Pleased


“We are pleased that the media changes have passed the Senate. Like all great television dramas, this has been a long-running saga, full of twists and turns, and even with a nail-biting cliffhanger,” Anderson said.

“We would like to thank Communications Minister Senator Mitch Fifield for his tireless efforts on behalf of our industry. We would also like to thank Senator Nick Xenophon and his team for their strong support of free-to-air television in Australia.

“Thanks to these reforms, we will have millions more to invest in local content and more options to grow and strengthen our business.”

Nine Network

Hugh Marks, Nine CEO said the reforms were a “crucial step” in the right direction.

He thanked the Turnbull government, Fifield, One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson, Xenophon and Senators David Leyonhjelm, Lucy Gichuhi, Cory Bernardi, and Derryn Hinch.

“The abolition of broadcast licence fees, to be replaced by a lower spectrum charge, is welcome relief at a time where investment in new content and platforms is crucial.

“The changes in ownership laws provide more flexibility to media organisations to configure their businesses in a structure that allows greater efficiencies and flexibility to respond to audience’s needs.

“The Bill will return to the lower house in October when the Parliament resumes and we eagerly anticipate the opportunities for our business from that point,” Marks said.

Prime Media Group

John Hartigan, chairman for Prime Media Group congratulated Fifield and the government for their “enduring resolve”.

“Prime congratulates Minister Fifield and all parliamentarians who supported this important reform bill, knowing that the commercial viability of Australian-owned media businesses ensures diversity of voices and opinions in the community, particularly in regional Australia,” Hartigan said.

“We offer our thanks to the Minister for his enduring resolve and to all the cross bench Senators who engaged with us, supported the reforms and gave thoughtful consideration to this matter.”


Peter Tonagh, Foxtel’s CEO said the deal with the “most significant reform to media regulation” since the introduction of the Broadcasting Services Act.

“I’d especially like to acknowledge the Minister for bringing the industry together, and convincing his Senate colleagues to support these measures. This package will significantly increase the ability of Australian media companies to compete in an increasingly competitive world,” Tonagh said.

Fairfax Media 

Greg Hywood, Fairfax Media’s chief executive officer, said the package would allow for a more “competitive environment”.

He said Fairfax would act in the “best interests of shareholders”, and take advantage of any opportunities which come from the changes.

“We believe this comprehensive package of reforms will create a competitive environment for Australia’s media sector.

“In particular we note: removal of the artificial two-our-of-three restriction which limits an Australian company from owning more than two of a radio licence, TV broadcast licence or newspaper in the same market, removal of the restriction on TV licence holders to 75% of the potential national audience, provision of an investment fund for regional media to help with transition to digital and other innovation, and employer subsidies for hiring new cadets in regional areas, including a limited number of journalism scholarships at universities to be granted.”

He thanked Turnbull and Fifield for bringing legislation into the “modern age”, and Xenophon for supporting regional journalism.

“It is no small feat having the sector united on what is the best legislative setting for the future. Fairfax acknowledges that there was broad support by the Senate crossbenchers,” Hywood said.

News Corp

Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp, said the reforms would “address restrictions” and enable media operations to invest in local communities.

“News Corp Australia welcomes the passage of the Government’s media reform legislation,” Miller said.

“This finally addresses the restrictions that have held back the competitiveness of media companies in Australia for far too long.

“The additional initiatives put in place, through the well considered work of the Nick Xenophon Team and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, mean there is now a holistic approach that can directly benefit Australian communities, local businesses and media companies focused on Australia.

“These reforms are important. They will better enable the nation’s media operations, particularly in regional areas, to have certainty and invest in local communities and jobs in appropriate ways for a multi-platform digital age.”

Southern Cross Austereo

Grant Blackley, Southern Cross Austereo’s CEO, thanked the Government for their “unrelenting” determination.

“SCA congratulates the government on delivering the package of media ownership reforms,” Blackley said.

“The rules that have now been removed date back to a period before the internet or pay TV were in Australia and were well past their used by date. This reform is vital in levelling the playing field between the non-regulated and regulated media players.”

Industry bodies show their support

Commercial Radio Australia – the industry body for Australia’s commercial radio stations – said radio broadcasters would be able to move ahead with more “certainty” and “ability” to invest in local content and innovation.

Joan Warner, chief executive officer of CRA said: “This is a positive outcome that will bring Australia’s media laws into the digital age and help ensure local media has a chance to compete, evolve and grow.

“We look forward to continuing to produce and promote the millions of hours of Australian content provided by Australian commercial radio each year.”

Free TV Australia Chairman, Harold Mitchell, described the Senate’s decision as a “significant win” for Australians, Australian content and Australian employees.

“We warmly welcome the acceptance that we can’t continue to compete with the likes of Google and Facebook under media laws that pretend the internet doesn’t exist and levies the world’s highest licence fees,” Mitchell said.


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