Green light for me­dia re­forms

The Cairns Post - - NATION - ROB HAR­RIS

THE Turn­bull Govern­ment has sealed a ma­jor vic­tory af­ter win­ning sup­port for the most sig­nif­i­cant me­dia re­forms in more than a decade.

The Se­nate cross­bench last night ap­proved a pack­age over­haul­ing out­dated me­dia laws af­ter Nick Xenophon suc­cess­fully ex­tracted a $60.4 mil­lion “re­gional and small pub­lish­ers jobs and in­no­va­tion pack­age”.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Mitch Fi­field gained the votes of the three NXT sen­a­tors late on Wed­nes­day night hav­ing al­ready won the backing from the four One Na­tion sen­a­tors, Der­ryn Hinch, Lucy Gichuhi and David Ley­on­hjelm.

The changes will abol­ish the two-out-of-three own­er­ship rule and the 75 per cent au­di­ence reach rule that the me­dia in­dus­try has blamed for cre­at­ing an un­even play­ing field against on­line ri­vals.

Part of Sen­a­tor Xenophon’s deal in­cludes a con­sumer watch­dog probe into the role of Google and Face­book.

Sen­a­tor Xenophon said Par­lia­ment “can­not ig­nore the pres­sures” me­dia com­pa­nies face when up against global tech gi­ants.

Broad­cast­ing li­cence fees will also be abol­ished and changes made to the anti-si­phon­ing list, while more re­stric­tions will be placed on gam­bling ad­ver­tis­ing dur­ing live sport­ing events.

The Xenophon deal will pro­vide a fi­nan­cial boost to re­gional and small pub­lish­ers through grants, schol­ar­ships and a cadet­ship pro­gram.

It fea­tures a three-year, $50 mil­lion in­no­va­tion fund for re­gional and small pub­lish­ers.

Sen­a­tor Fi­field said the re­forms would give me­dia out­lets a “shot in the arm” and a “fight­ing chance” at sur­vival.

“We don’t al­ways agree with what those in the gallery will write and broad­cast and post and blog,” Sen­a­tor Fi­field said. “Nev­er­the­less, we do recog­nise that what they do is an im­por­tant un­der­pin­ning for our democ­racy.’’

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