Media Reform Green Paper: What FTA and SVOD players had to say

Submissions on The Federal Government’s Media Reform Green Paper: Modernising Television Regulation In Australia have now closed. The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications is expected to publish the submissions by the middle of the month, however, while the industry waits to see how the government might adapt or change its stance based on those, below is a summary of what FTA and streaming providers in the market have submitted.

Mumbrella also contacted Disney+ but it declined to comment.

Amazon Prime Video:

“Amazon shares the common objective of promoting and celebrating Australian content as we continue to support the government Green Paper consultation process.”

Since 2019, Prime Video has commissioned 14 Amazon Original series in Australia, investing $150 million in local productions, which has resulted in more than 2,500 jobs across Australia.

As well as commissioning original Australian content, Prime Video continues to offer a wide range of Australian films and television shows, not only to Amazon Prime members in Australia, but also to its more than 200 million Amazon Prime members around the world.

Views on the paper

Amazon shares the common objective of promoting and celebrating Australian content among as wide an audience as possible. There are many ways to achieve this goal; for example, investing in local productions, licensing both new and older Australian content, promoting Australian content both in Australia and worldwide, and making Australian content available through a variety of models (subscription, transactional video on demand, ad-supported, etc).… As such, we reiterate our view that any regulatory interventions at this early stage should be appropriately limited and cautious so as not to impact adversely on Australian consumers.

Prime Video is supportive of the government’s requests for voluntary reporting on local investments by specified Streaming Video On Demand providers and, to this end, provided its first report to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in April of this year. It will also provide its second report to ACMA later this year, as requested.mmmm

… Amazon Australia does not believe there is any “cogent justification” for requiring it to invest a proportion of Prime Video’s gross Australian revenue in new Australian content.

“We do not believe that any market failure can be demonstrated, such that a regulatory response is warranted.” Amazon Australia instead urges the Australian Government to continue to collect data and to review the situation over the next several years… at present we do not believe the data shows a lack of investment in Australian content and Australian production capacity by the sector.

Free TV Australia:


Free TV chairman, Greg Hywood, said: “The Free TV industry has proposed a technology
and regulatory pathway that recognises the central role that broadcast terrestrial free-to-air
services currently play in the lives of Australians and the importance of ensuring they continue
to be accessible to Australian communities.
“Free-to-air television delivers critical services that no other platform does – free, ubiquitous
locally relevant viewing to all Australian homes.

“The upheaval in the media sector has only elevated the need for the strong and sustainable
local services that people can go to for trusted news and public service information, to tune in
to homegrown Australian stories and to watch iconic sporting events as a nation – no matter
where they live or how much they earn. We need new rules for this new landscape but they
need to be the right rules to ensure balance, quality, and accessibility for all Australians.”

The Free TV submission suggests that reforms are critical to ensure the future quality of the
TV technology platform, and a sustainable and competitive industry that can continue to
deliver the social and cultural objectives of the government.

Media Entertainment and Arts Allianz:

The Federal Government must stay the course on the introduction of new content rules for Netflix and other streaming video services.

A content investment obligation for streaming video on demand (SVOD) services is needed to ensure Australian audiences have access to programming that is relevant to their lives and supports the domestic screen industry.

Revenue and audiences for SVOD providers are rapidly increasing, making Australia one of the most lucrative markets in the world. They should be required to invest a proportion of those earnings back into Australian content.

MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said: “Australian content rules, expressed either as hours per year or as a proportion of company revenues, should be seen as an indispensable cost of doing business in Australia.

“Content rules provide Australian audiences with programs they want to watch, provide cultural reference points and sustain a large chunk of our creative industries.

“The government’s media reform green paper talks at length about the merits of requiring the production of Australian content.

“It acknowledges that Australia is a relatively small marketplace and that without content rules, broadcasters and operators would either stop or massively reduce investment in screen productions. We need to heed the warnings in the green paper and get cracking on establishing a new and fair way for multi-billion-dollar companies to better serve the Australian market.”


Netflix investments in Australian content represent a significant and growing contribution to Australia’s content production ecosystem. We are the only international streaming service with a full-time content team based on the ground in Australia, and we’ll continue to invest aggressively in Australian content.

The Green Paper seems to assume that streaming entertainment companies are not investing in Australian content production because they are not obliged to. This is not correct. In the financial year 2019-20, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) reported that the total investment on adult drama and children’s content from all commercial television broadcasters was $89.7 million. In the same period Netflix’s investments in Australian adult drama and children’s content totalled just more than $111 million. In FY 19-20 Netflix invested in over 80 titles in these categories.

Netflix partners with Australian creators to bring Australian content to our members around the world.

Licensing second-run content also provides a new window for Australians to access classic Australian content otherwise not readily available to them, and provides additional financial support to the Australian production industry.

… in the 2019/20 Financial Year, Netflix made available more than 145 Australian series, films and children’s content, to Netflix members in the United States, with similar numbers of titles available across our largest international markets.

Netflix takes significant measures to feature Australian content, and to assist our members find Australian productions and stories. Netflix recommendations also work to ensure members around the world are presented with Australian produced content that they are likely to enjoy.

There is no evidence of market failure in local content production: 

As well as record levels of investment across the content production sector as a whole, Netflix and other streaming entertainment providers are already making significant contributions to Australian content production. It is critically important that work on the Green Paper be informed by data from the voluntary Australian content investment reporting process that has just commenced between streaming entertainment companies and the ACMA.

Assessing the Green Paper’s proposals

Netflix supports the broad policy objective of creating a modern regulatory framework that will benefit Australia’s content production industries. However, inflexible and overly prescriptive regulatory intervention risks significant unintended consequences for the rapidly evolving streaming entertainment industry, free-to-air broadcasters, as well as the wider set of content production industries that are increasingly finding opportunities within this growing and global sector.

Great care must be taken to ensure that any policy interventions do not exacerbate existing capacity constraints and skills shortages, or create disincentives for emerging business models such as co-productions between streaming services and free-to-air or public broadcasters.

Achieving ‘platform neutral’ media regulation

The Green Paper focuses on only one element of regulatory harmonisation – local content obligations. However, if implemented, the Green Paper’s proposals regarding local content would result in more inconsistency: both to the overall media regulatory framework, and to local content policy.

The current local content system already applies two different regulatory obligations: on commercial broadcasters (a quota system) and subscription broadcasters (a system imposing a local content obligation based on a percentage of overall program expenditure). Local content investment decisions made by the national broadcasters and streaming entertainment companies are governed by market forces.

Nine Entertainment Co: (Nine Network and Stan)

Nine strongly supports the Free TV submission.

Nine submitted that there should not be any direct or indirect obligation on SVODs to create local content, as there is no market failure in relation to the delivery of local content given the existing content obligations on free to air broadcasters and the actual performance of SVOD services in providing local content.

As outlined in the Free TV submissions, Nine believes that any direct or indirect obligation would result in the following unintended and serious consequences:

i. Sharply, and artificially, drive up the cost of content (leaving commercial broadcasters and local SVODs unable to compete with global competitors);
ii. Decrease the diversity of content, and lose our unique Australian voice; and
iii. Put significant pressure on production facilities – as it is, there is currently not enough production infrastructure or specialised production crew in this industry – the real effect of this is that commercial broadcasters and local SVODs won’t be able to book and plan studios and crew to create Australian content.

The Australian content and production industry is significantly smaller and different to our overseas contemporaries and these unintended consequences could have a significant impact on the ability of commercial broadcasters and local SVODs to commission, produce and create Australian content and stories.

Nine is committed to delivering linear content to Australians regardless of recent trends which may not develop in the way, or at the pace anticipated in the Green Paper.

Nine has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into our online presence and delivery to preserve the future of live linear content – regardless of how it is delivered.

Australia is a unique market and this shouldn’t be underplayed or discounted – socio-economic,
political and geographical factors remain relevant in how quickly any transition to full linear streaming may occur. Nine believes that this technical transition, without direct government intervention (such as campaigns to drive awareness for Australians to upgrade their TVs, and a regulatory mandate to connected TV manufacturers to include the required technology to support DVB-T2) may mean that this process may take up to 20 years.

Notwithstanding this potentially slow consumer transition and update, the time to act and plan is now. Nine is committed to working with the government, the commercial television broadcast industry and the national broadcasters in developing a timeline for change.

Nine supports the timeline advocated for in the Free TV submissions, and notes that the timeline should be conditional on delivery of the immediate regulatory relief requested in our submissions and the Free TV submissions.

Commercial broadcasters need to retain the right to shape their future and retain their ability to compete in an increasingly complex business. Our competitors are not just other commercial television broadcasters, but other news, sport and entertainment content providers.

Any action taken by the government in relation to spectrum planning, and which results in a loss of our ability to compete, needs to be addressed appropriately. Any decrease in enterprise value needs
to be appropriately compensated. Significant consequences would include job losses and reduced support of the production and content industries. There would also be a diminished ability to invest in the creation and coverage of local and national news, Australian content and programming and live and free sport coverage.

Seven West Media:

The Green Paper has started an important conversation about the future of the industry and has provided a platform for constructive industry and government engagement to ensure a vibrant and exciting future for Australian free-to-air television.

Seven West Media managing director and CEO: James Warburton, said: “The Green Paper proposes a new broadcast licensing scheme under which broadcasters could surrender spectrum in exchange for spectrum tax relief. The current proposal is like asking telecommunications companies to stop their technology innovation at 5G with no ability to upgrade to 6G and beyond. We think there is a better path.

Seven supports the Free TV Australia submission that outlines why the new broadcast licensing
scheme needs to be discussed and reviewed.

He added: “Conversations focused just on live linear TV don’t reflect the TV business of today. This review of the regulatory model for free-to-air TV is an important opportunity to shape the future of Australian television businesses by reflecting how modern Australia consumes content.”

The Seven’s submission argues that the immediate regulatory priorities to address the challenges presented by the growth of online content viewing are:

• Regulated prominence: Commercial free-to-air TV delivers trusted and verified news, Australian stories and sport. This content is important for our national identity. However, as television screens become more cluttered with digital menus, preloaded apps and the new advertising business models of original equipment manufacturers, free-to-air services are becoming less visible and less accessible. As the regulatory framework evolves, it is important that commercial free-to-air services are easily accessible and prominent at no cost.

• Legislatively embedding net neutrality: Online TV is part of how Australians want to consume their content. NBN and telecommunications retail service providers should be prohibited from discriminating between different online businesses which can pay for higher quality of service or priority carriage.

• Addressing the anti-siphoning framework: The importance of universal access to free sport cannot be understated. Sport is an essential part of Australian culture. It is crucial that the regulatory framework is extended to online video platforms to ensure all Australians continue to have access to free sports and they are not locked behind a paywall. Further, Seven submits the list should accommodate a multi-screen environment. Listed sports that are broadcast on linear TV should also be made available for free through a broadcaster’s online services without the need for separate licensing.

• An immediate review of the spectrum tax: Commercial free-to-air should not be paying more than the government’s administrative costs.

Read Warburton’s full opinion on the paper here. 

ViacomCBS ANZ (Network Ten and Paramount+)

ViacomCBS strongly supports the position of Free TV Australia that “the single most urgent regulatory issue facing broadcasters in the connected environment is ensuring free-to-air content is prominent on connected TVs.

Beverley McGarvey and Jarrod Villani, executive vice presidents, ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand, commented: “Terrestrial broadcast television has a long and critical future, which is why we are asking for prominence rules to protect it and all the premium Australian content it renders accessible to every household. This is without a doubt the single most urgent regulatory issue we are facing.”

Villani added: “Prominence for free-to-air on connected devices is the single most urgent regulatory issue facing our industry right now. It is becoming common practice for connected TV brands to charge for placement. This just isn’t feasible for free-to-air networks.

“Without prominence rules, free-to-air television will be forced to choose between spending money to get placement and exposure on connected devices, or investing in Australian content, stories, news and sport.

“Similarly, if we don’t pay the fees to secure that placement and exposure on connected TV brands, Australian content, stories, news and sport are at risk of not being seen.

“We are hopeful that this issue will be addressed immediately. The Government recognises and appreciates the unparalleled value in having local television the go-to destination for Australians.”


Protect public policy objectives by legislating prominence and discovery for FTA TV (linear & Broadcast Video On Demand) in the connected TV environment.

Connected TV (CTV) manufacturers are already demanding both substantial fixed fees for brand/app prominence on their home screens as well as advertising revenue share arrangements under which the equipment manufacturers siphon off scarce advertising revenue (without making any financial contribution to production) with every view using a network’s BVOD app on that manufacturer’s CTV device. These emerging demands are not economically sustainable for Australia’s television networks.

By “crowding-out” FTA terrestrial channels and BVOD content apps from device screens and access points, legacy free to view services that are currently available to all Australians are increasingly less visible and accessible.

These strategic practices threaten the viability of free to view television services in Australia. In the absence of targeted regulation to counterbalance the emerging gatekeeper power of the CTV device manufacturers, FTA networks will be forced to choose between onerous revenue share arrangements (and the consequential diminution in the available revenue pool available for investment in Australian content) and relegation on, or expulsion from, CTV screens such that many Australians may be left without access to linear content and on-demand content provided through the classical channel options as well as BVOD apps such as 10Play on connected televisions and other similar devices.

The introduction of legislation to enshrine protection and prominence for the terrestrial and digital services of Australia’s FTA commercial and national broadcasters is essential.


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