Regional broadcasters slam ‘mockery’ of reach rules as Nine prepares video streaming play

The Nine Network is set to follow rival Seven’s lead and begin live streaming its TV channels Nine, Gem and Go online.

Nine multichannels

CEO of Southern Cross Austereo Grant Blackley this morning told Mumbrella its affiliate’s move once again demonstrated the need for reform to “archaic” media laws which were being made a “mockery” of by the metropolitan TV networks.

“Modern technology enabling the metropolitan networks to stream their programs across all of Australia makes a mockery of the archaic media ownership laws and in particular the reach rule,” Blackley told Mumbrella. 

“It’s time the government urgently repealed the rules.”

Southern Cross Austereo CEO Grant Blackley.

Southern Cross Austereo CEO Grant Blackley.

The strong response from Blackley comes after The Australian Financial Review reported Nine will announce it will move into streaming all its TV channels online at its upfront event on Wednesday, a move that regional TV networks such as SCA and WIN, who pay Nine an affiliate fee for their content, argue potentially undermines their business models.

The regional TV players also argue the shift into video streaming highlights the flaws in the what they argue are outdated media laws which prevent any one TV player from reaching more than 75 per cent of the population on terrestrial TV but do allow the metropolitan TV networks to live stream content to their entire Australian population.

Nine would not be drawn on the report, noting all announcements regarding the Upfronts event would be made on Wednesday.

Prime CEO Ian Audsley said in a statement: “We’ve been telling MPs for quite some time now that the reach rule and the 2 out of 3 rule are redundant.  It’s evident from our discussions with MPs that there is broad support on all sides of politics for the removal of the 75 per cent reach rule in particular, and I’m confident that it is only a matter of time until both laws are abolished.”

Seven announced in August it would seek to broadcast Seven, 7Mate and 7TWo on the Plus7 app from December, a decision which solicited a strong denunciation from all four of the major regional TV networks including Seven’s main affiliate partner Prime along with SCA, WIN and Impaja.

Seven also fired back at their regional counterparts noting that they have been streaming video to the entire Australian population for a number of years.

Asked about whether video streaming made a “mockery” of the media laws Tim Worner, CEO of Seven, told the AFR: “I don’t think so. I mean we’ve been streaming our shows  into regional areas since 2009. Why didn’t they arc up in 2009?”

In recent months, the regional TV networks have been waging a political campaign called “Save Our Voices”, fronted by Former deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, aimed at mobilising regionals voters and Nationals MPs in favour of media reforms that include the abolition of the reach rule and also rules preventing a company own more than two out of three traditional media.

Nic Christensen 

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