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Ten warns media reform is ‘dead’ after Turnbull says to expect double dissolution on July 2

Network Ten has expressed its disappointment that the current media reform is effectively ‘dead’ after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today warned it would be “very good assumption” to expect a vote on July 2.

The current package, which proposes abolition of the reach rule and 2/3 rule, is currently before a Senate Committee which was due to report on May 12; however, the government has to issue the writs by May 11 – thereby shelving all current legislation.

The media reform was expected to be voted on in late June.

“My intention is after the budget, an appropriate time after the budget has been delivered, I will be asking the Governor General to dissolve both houses of the parliament for an election, which I expect to be held on July 2,” said Turnbull, in a press conference this morning.

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A spokesman for Ten told Mumbrella: “It is disappointing that the bill is now effectively dead because these rules are hurting Australian media companies.”

The TV Network has urged the government to pursue licence fee reductions in the May 3 budget, describing it as a “pressing issue”.

“The most pressing issue for the future of free-to-air television and local content production in this country is the abolition of the exorbitant licence fees that we pay,” said the spokesman.

“Reducing those fees substantially in the upcoming Federal Budget is urgent and cannot be delayed without serious impacts for local jobs and local production.

“We are simply asking the Government to level the playing field somewhat for Australian companies in our efforts to compete with foreign multi-nationals that don’t have to comply with regulation, don’t have to fund Australian content, don’t pay licence fees and don’t even have to pay tax on advertising revenue earned in this country.”

It is understood the Senate committee examining media reform, which is set to meet next week in Melbourne to hear testimony from the likes of Nine and Ten, could potentially move up its reporting date which would at least see the report tabled.

Whichever side of politics is then elected on July 2 would be under significant pressure to urgently bring media reform up in the next parliament as a number of the regional TV networks, such as WIN and Southern Cross Austereo, have pushed their affiliate negotiations into the second half of the year in the hope that new laws might allow them to merge.

Nic Christensen

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