Turnbull signals support for licence rebate for TV networks

Australia’s free TV networks have begun lobbying for a permanent discount on their broadcasting licences following last year’s $250m rebate from the Government.

And shadow media minister Malcolm Turnbull has signalled to Mumbrella that he is also sympathetic to the networks as the rise of IPTV has taken away their previous monopoly.

In an interview with Mumbrella editor Tim Burrowes, Turnbull – shadow minister for communications and broadband – said: “The TV broadcasters have a very good argument – and it goes like this: When the broadcasting licences were first granted… the broadcasting licences were real monopolies, they were oligopolies. The only way you could get sound and pictures into somebody’s house was over that bandwidth. Now of course that’s changed dramatically so the television companies are entitled to say ‘what we are licencing today is not the same as it was so many years ago’.

“They do have a point.”

Turnbull’s comment were made in an interview shot on Friday, which will feature at greater length in an episode of The Mumbo Report from Studio 33 next week.

Today, Free TV Australia – which represents the free to air networks –  began its own campaign for a permanent rebate with an opinion piece in The Australian written by CEO Julie Flynn. In it she argued:

“The existing licence fee system for free-to-air TV has been in place since 1964 and has not been reviewed since 1987.

“Today’s media market looks nothing like 1987’s and there is no justification for leaving licence fees at 1987 levels.”


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