What is happening?

The Australian Government has released a green paper, proposing reforms to support the media industry and enhance the quality of services and content available to Australians.

What is outlined?

The proposed measures include offering commercial broadcasters the option to operate under a new television broadcasting license. This will reduce the limitations that current regulations impose on publishers, under the condition that Australian news and screen content will gain future investment. The paper proposes an introduction of Australian content spend obligation on SVOD services.

“With declining revenues, rising costs and an outdated regulatory framework, the capacity of Australia’s media sector to provide Australian programming, local content and public interest journalism is being challenged”, said Minister for Communications, cyber safety and the arts Paul Fletcher.

Who has responded?

The MEAA’s position lies in support of the green paper, with an acknowledgement of the size restrictions of the Australian marketplace. “Australian content rules, expressed either as hours per year or as a proportion of company revenues, should be seen as an indispensable cost of doing business in Australia” said MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy.

Netflix has come out to agree with the basic premise of the proposal, however is cautious towards the idea of a strict framework. The platform argues that the lack of a Australian supportive policy does not correlate to a lack of published Australian content, pointing out their dedicated Australian team of producers.

Nine Entertainment Co & Seven West Media have both stated their support for the proposal, showing particular concern for the consequences of outlining obligations for Australian publishers. Both publishers are in agreement that the scheme needs to be put under further review to discuss future practicalities.

What does this mean?

The green paper has been successful in sparking an important conversation for Australian publishers, highlighting concerns for the future of TV regulation. The Australian government left the proposal open to submissions from stakeholders (closed 23 May), taking into consideration the feedback from a range of services.

What is next?

Awaiting the final reform proposals, Australian publishers and consumers are left in the shadow of regulation discussion. Though some publishers have shown concern about what this decision could mean for their business model, everyone can agree that Australian content must be regulated to an extent for the future of the Australian TV industry.

For more information on what the reform could mean for the industry, reach out to your ADMATICian.