Government won’t act on sixth TV channel
THE Federal Government has decided not to allow a fourth commercial free-to-air television network. The decision comes as Communications Minister Stephen Conroy unveils the Government’s initial response to the Convergence Review, promising more changes to come next year. Senator Conroy says no spectrum or broadcast licences will be made available to enable a fourth free-to-air television network. In the long-term, however, the Government will consider potential uses of the ‘‘sixth channel’’ as broadcasting and online technologies evolve. The Government will allow community TV to use the spectrum intended for the sixth channel until at least December 31, 2014. The existing networks will benefit from an extension of their current rebate on broadcasting licence fees by a further 12 months, ahead of moving to reduce the fees permanently by 50 per cent, to a maximum of 4.5 per cent of revenue. The Government will also seek Parliament’s approval to remove the restriction on a person controlling a network of commercial television stations that has an audience reach of greater than 75 per cent of the Australian population. He said the removal of the socalled 75 per cent rule would be subject to written undertakings about local content obligations in regional areas. Changes will also be made to increase Australian content. Commercial TV multi-channel broadcasters will be required to show 730 hours of local content in 2013, increasing to 1095 hours in 2014 and to 1460 hours in 2015.