PROGRESS ON NEWS MEDIA CODE WELCOME BUT REGIONS MISS OUT AGAIN

JIM CHALMERS MP.
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1 month ago
PROGRESS ON NEWS MEDIA CODE WELCOME BUT REGIONS MISS OUT AGAIN
JIM CHALMERS MP
Labor welcomes progress to support Australian media businesses with the development of a mandatory news media code to address bargaining power imbalances with digital platforms.
 
Today, the Treasurer admitted that Australia’s “regulatory framework has not kept up” with changes to the media landscape.
 
The introduction of legislation necessary to implement the code will come well over a year after the ACCC recommended it and seven years after this Government first took office, during which time there have been mass closures of news outlets across Australia.
 
Australian news media businesses deserve a fair return on their investment in public interest journalism.
 
It is essential that the eligibility criteria and framework are fair, and do not inadvertently entrench the power imbalance or undermine media diversity.
 
It is disappointing that ideology again appears to be tainting the approach with the Government excluding public broadcasters from accessing the bargaining provisions in relation to remuneration under the code.

Excluding the ABC and SBS is a missed opportunity to derive value for money from taxpayer investment in news media production.

The SBS is empowered and encouraged to earn commercial revenues, but has been cut out of this remuneration opportunity.

Despite the ABC highlighting that it would direct revenue accruing from the code to local and regional news, the Morrison Government has chosen to deliberately exclude the national broadcaster.

This comes on top of recent revelations that Government budget cuts to the ABC are depriving regional Australia of essential local news and emergency broadcasting.

The Final Report of the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiryacknowledges the important role of the ABC and SBS in addressing the risk of under-provision of public interest journalism and found that “the public broadcasters are not currently resourced to fully compensate for the decline in local reporting previously produced by traditional commercial publishers”.
 
It is counterintuitive to now exclude the ABC and SBS from a framework designed to support public interest journalism, just as the Government’s ABC cuts run counter to the ACCC’s recommendation that the ABC have “stable and adequate funding”.
 
Labor will consult widely with industry, unions and news media policy experts on the exposure draft in accordance with our usual processes.
 
Communications and the Arts