Reports: Federal Government having second thoughts on TV/radio licence fee reductions

The Federal government is having second thoughts on its mooted reduction in the licence fees charged to TV networks and radio stations.

Mitch FifieldIn the face of the billion-dollar Federal budget deficit both The Australian and The Australian Financial Review are reporting that a proposed cut from 4.5% to 1% of revenue may be off the cards.

A cut in commercial licence fees, which currently pays some $173m in fees, has long been advocated by the broadcasters who argue they are at a disadvantage compared with the likes of Netflix and YouTube.

Speaking at the Senate Inquiry on media reform last week, Tim Worner CEO of Seven West Media, told Senators that cuts to the licence fees should be a top priority. 

Tim Worner“I think what we are saying is we would like to see a more considered debate of a broader package of reforms,” said Worner. “And right on the top of that package needs to be the abolition or reduction of licence fees.”

The Federal Government would not be drawn on the budget speculation with a spokeswoman from Communications Minister Mitch Fifield’s office telling the AFR: “The government has indicated that it will examine the issue of licence fees in the context of the Budget and the government does not comment on speculation in relation to what may be decided in the Budget.”

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has signalled previously that he was open to the licence fee cut.

Last month, when he announced a legislative package for media reform, including the abolition of the reach rule and the 2/3 rule, Fifield also signalled that the government would look at licence fees for both TV and radio as part of the Federal Budget.

“In relation to licence fees we have indicated that free-to-air TV and commercial radio licence fees will be looked at in the context of the budget,” Fifeld said.

“We have recognised the arguments of the free-to-airs and commercial radio, that these licence fees were established when TV and radio essentially had a monopoly… the second reading speech used words to the effect of, ‘this is a super-profits tax’.”

Nic Christensen 


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