Media reform takes a step forward with reports cabinet has backed plans to scrap two laws

Fifield: preparing to take media reform to the party room.

Fifield: preparing to take media reform to the party room.

Proposals to scrap controversial laws limiting the reach of traditional media owners have moved a step closer with reports that cabinet has given its backing to the plans.

Fairfax Media is reporting the package includes scrapping the population “reach rule” and the “two out of three” ownership rule, but not changes to sport’s anti-siphoning list.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield is understood to now be preparing to take the reforms to the Coalition party room and then the Senate. If the laws pass they are expected to trigger a wave of media mergers and acquisitions. 

The reach rule as it stands presently prohibits television networks from broadcasting to more than 75% of the population but regional TV networks have been complaining that the push into live streaming by metropolitan networks like Seven and Nine has undermined the law.

The two-out-of-three rule bans media proprietors from controlling a newspaper, television and radio station in the same market and prevents mergers between the likes of Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment Co.

According to Fairfax, the package will include protections for regional content – with the government set to expand the current “points system” for local content – after Nationals MPs demanded the changes to ensure their local stations were not gutted by metropolitan broadcasters.

However it also claims the laws will only come into effect after a “trigger event”, such as a takeover of a regional broadcaster by a metro network.

Regional TV networks have been campaigning for the legislative changes – just yesterday Southern Cross Austereo’s (ASX: SXL) CEO Grant Blackley said media reform remains vital if it is to “fight the tide” against them in the regional TV market.

Comment has been sought from Senator Fifield’s office.

Nic Christensen 


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.