Budget 2016: measures that impact the media and marketing industries

The 2016 budget has been handed down by Treasurer Scott Morrison with several initiatives impacting on the media and marketing industries, as the government prepares to dissolve parliament and call an election. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know.

scott morrison budget

Treasurer Scott Morrison handed down his first budget

In his first budget Treasurer Scott Morrison described the budget as an “economic plan” pointing to the economy transitioning from the mining boom to a services economy.

He described it as a “growth friendly 10 year enterprise tax plan” which gave tax cuts to small businesses, likely to benefit many smaller agencies and tech firms.

He also promised support for new startup businesses will be delivered from the “innovation economy” which the government has been touting since Malcolm Turnbull took power as Prime Minister.

Licence fees cut by 25%:

As predicted free-to-air TV networks and radio networks are big winners with their annual licence fees from the government cut by 25%, estimated to cost the government $163m over that time.

But even this cut hasn’t appeased the TV broadcasters with Free TV boss Harold Mitchell calling for the fees to be reduced to “international best practice levels without delay” and warning of government complacency.

“We appreciate that the Budget delivers a small permanent reduction in licence fees however, we are concerned that the Government hasn’t acknowledged that these changes are urgent,” he said.

“In the new media environment, the government can’t afford to be complacent. We need to act now to make sure broadcasters can continue to invest in great Australian programming and in transforming our businesses.”


Ten’s CEO Paul Anderson described the licence fee – money paid for the right to use public broadcast spectrum – as an “unfair super profits tax”, while Seven’s Tim Worner said it was “not nearly enough” to help them compete against digital players.

It’s also not popular with subscription TV body ASTRA which has claimed taxpayers are footing “an unconditional handout” for these listed companies.

Concerned: Maiden

Concerned: Maiden

“ASTRA is deeply disappointed the Government has chosen to add to an already large deficit by providing television proprietors with tax cuts,” said CEO Andrew Maiden.

“In exchange for paying licence fees, Australian free-to-air broadcasters enjoy a legislated ban on competition, guaranteed access to broadcasting spectrum and the world’s most protected market for sports broadcast rights.

“There should be no reduction in licence fees without a corresponding reduction in the privileges and protections from competition that free-to-air television networks have amassed over decades.

“Thirty years after serious efforts began to eliminate protectionism, few industries enjoy greater structural advantages than free-to-air television, and even fewer expect corporate welfare as changing technology and consumer choices challenge their privileged position.”

In radio terms Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner welcomed the move saying: “The cut in licence fees is a welcome relief to Australian radio broadcasters, who operate in one of the most intensively competitive industries in the world.

“We are disappointed that the relief is not greater but will enter into discussions with the Minister on further cuts later in 2016 as mentioned in his Budget statement.”

Meanwhile community radio body the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia has warned a $1.4m funding cut puts community radio in the five capital cities at risk.

CEO Jon Bisset said: “Potentially, it excludes community broadcasters from a digital broadcasting future and threatens the whole community broadcasting sector’s role as a key pillar in Australian broadcasting.”

“This unfortunate decision reflects the lack of value that the government places on these media services that contribute to public interest outcomes and media diversity, generate high levels of local and specialist content, and provide opportunities for participation in free-to-air media.”

“This is particularly concerning given the planned reforms to media ownership, which are likely to result in a less diverse media landscape and less opportunities for community participation.”

ABC sees news budget cut but SBS celebrates a rise:

Both ABC and SBS had their triennial funding rounds.

The ABC is facing job cuts in its news services despite its core budget maintained at the present level with index based rises each year.

However its Enhanced Newsgathering Program, for things like its fact check and state based regional news services, has been slashed by $20m over the three years to $41.1m.

“ABC News will seek to maintain as many of the initiatives as possible, with a focus on delivering for Australians in regional and outer-suburban areas. However, there will necessarily be some changes to staffing and programming in line with the reduced allocation of funds.”

Journalist’s union the MEAA described the funding arrangements as a “disappointment” pointing to around $250m of cuts in the 2014/15 budget as having done the damage.

Conversely SBS is a relative winner with an extra $8.9m in funding over the three years, as well as $6.9m this year to make up for losses after the Senate rejected proposals to loosen advertising restrictions on the public broadcaster.

SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid said: “The funding will support SBS services at a time when there is higher engagement and demand than ever before, with audiences expecting content to be delivered across a multitude of digital platforms and devices.

“It will enable SBS teams to continue delivering on our Charter by providing balanced and high-quality news and current affairs, services that aid participation in Australian life for our four million LOTE (Language other than English) speakers, and unique programs which inspire a greater understanding and appreciation of our nation’s diversity.

“In this Budget, the government has recognised the value of SBS’s role in our collective efforts to promote social cohesion, and the changing media landscape in which SBS operates.”


Google Australia new logoMultinational tax avoiders are set to get hit with a new “Google tax” of 40% of income they move offshore. This measure comes after last year’s Senate hearings which exposed several companies including Google, News Corp, Adobe and Apple paying little or no taxes on billions of dollars of ad revenues.

Small businesses will also benefit with the 30% business tax threshold being raised from turnover of $2m to $10m. That threshold will rise over the next few years, with the government’s plan being that in ten year’s time business tax will be at 25% if everything goes to plan.

That change will benefit many locally-owned small agencies.

Personal tax will also be cut for anyone earning over $80,000 with the 37% threshold moved up to $87,000 – which has been calculated to be worth around $315 for higher income families.


Businesses taking on interns may be eligible to subsidies for youth employment, as part of a measure to cut youth unemployment. This will include a $1,000 upfront subsidy, although it’s not clear which businesses will be eligible for that.


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