Regional broadcaster welcomes media law reforms

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Reforms to Australia’s media laws will be introduced in Federal Parliament today.

The changes mean that a rule preventing television networks from broadcasting to more than 75 per cent of the population will be abolished and that rules preventing the ownership by one company of a television station, radio station and newspaper in the same market would go. 

The proposed changes may trigger a series of mergers between regionals and metro television networks.

Southern Cross Austereo’s chief executive Grand Blackley told the ABC this morning that the new media ownership laws will enhance and protect content across regional Australia.

“The repeal of the reach rule and the two out of three rule I think will secure the services of local content being delivered into regional Australia and furthermore protect and enhance that content,” he told the ABC’s AM program.

“It allows the regional networks to actually be more efficient and get some economies of scale as we move forth, which should secure us both financially and physically, allowing us to invest more in content for regional viewers.”

Blackley said that digital streaming from the big networks, as well as disruption from other digital players has seen regional advertising revenues decline by around 6 per cent in a 12 month period.

Reports today have indicated that a change in the laws may spark a wave of mergers of regional networks with their metro counterparts.
“At this point in time we have no visibility as to what the Seven, Nine or Ten networks' intentions are,” Blackley said.

“But, you know, we will be openly looking to see how we can improve services for regional viewers.”