A long-awaited legislation to abolish current media ownership laws has finally been approved by the Coalition. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield proposed amendments to the Broadcast Services act. The changes will eliminate the ‘reach rule’, which prevents a television broadcaster to reach more than 75 per cent of the population. It also stops mergers between regional television networks and their metropolitan affiliates. Essentially, the removal of this rule will benefit networks Seven West Media, Nine Entertainment and Ten Network, who will henceforth be able to consolidate.
It will also scrap the ‘two-out-of-three rule’, which stops any proprietor from owning a newspaper, radio station and TV network in the same market. “The reach rule, the two-out-of-three rule I think are redundant,” said Fifield.
The laws were devised in 1987 and with the growth of digital technology it seems suitable for them to be reviewed. They were implemented in a time when platforms such as Netflix and Foxtel were non-existent. Additionally, accessing media was also very different as today’s consumers now have it at their fingertips on phones and laptops.
Labor has indicated they are willing to repeal the ‘reach rule’ but fear that retracting the ‘two-out-of-three rule’ could make Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp even more powerful.