AU Broadcast & Media Reform Package

The Australian Government today announced a comprehensive package of Media reforms to support Australia’s broadcast sector.

  • Abolishing broadcasting licence fees and datacasting charges.
  • Applying a fee for the spectrum that broadcasters use at a level more reflective of the current media landscape.
  • Further restrictions on gambling advertising in live sporting events across all platforms.
  • Amending the anti-siphoning scheme and list.
  • Repealing the two out of three and 75% audience reach media ownership rules.
  • A broad ranging and comprehensive review of Australian and children’s content.
  • Funding to support the broadcasting of women’s and niche sports.

The above list on the surface seems to be a reset of “Old Media Rules” that have been debated and needed tweaking for sometime in the face of the Digital tsunami that has hit global media outlets. Something for everyone it seems but there could be some clear winners depending on what happens next, the M&A consultants are standing by to model every possible scenario. Network Ten gets some room to breath and Foxtel seems to be an obvious winner in the long game, if they can hold off the digital tide of the OTT raiders and retain market share and ARPU.

There is one strange reform in this list that stands out as not like the others, Funding of Women’s and niche sport, while absolutely a market requirement to build the emerging codes, one would have to ask is this $30M (over 4 yrs) best served in Subscription TV? Giving tax payer funds to build a sports profile and reach is admirable but then locking that content behind a subscription pay wall seems an odd use of Taxpayer funds. No doubt this is the quid pro quo to Subscription TV for the reductions in gambling revenue with no licence fee offset as in FTA.

The question that isn’t addressed on this list, are these reforms enough to address the rapid shift in media markets to an on demand, multi-screen OTT model. The Incumbents will have to lift their game across all areas of their business mix, & drive those M&A synergies to meet this disruption head on. Only time will tell but the playing board has been reset for the current players if it gets through the Senate. We at least know the Gambling reform piece has Nick Xenophon’s fingerprints all over it.