Regional Communications Minister welcomes media reforms
2 March 2016
Minister for Regional Communications and Nationals Deputy Leader Fiona Nash has welcomed stronger local content laws for regional television broadcasters announced by Communications Minister Mitch Fifield.
Minister Nash said she was particularly pleased these new laws create an incentive for rural and
regional broadcasters to produce genuine local news.
Under the current system, regional television stations in most markets (known as "aggregated" markets, generally along the eastern seaboard) are required to produce an average of 120 "points" (equivalent to 120 minutes) of local content per week. The current system will continue to apply to markets where there is no "trigger event" - a merger, acquisition or change in control. However when media company mergers, acquisitions or changes in control occur, as they are expected to, the new content requirement will increase to 150 points per week.
In "non-aggregated" markets, which cover most other major regional population centres, a trigger event will cause the requirement to jump to an average of 60 points per week of local content – previously there was no requirement.
Genuine reporting of local news that includes footage gathered from the local area will receive three points whereas reading press releases to camera will receive only two, encouraging stations to produce the genuine local news rural and regional Australians love.
"Like most rural and regional Australians, I feel connected to my community by local news," Minister Nash said.
"I'm so pleased with this win for rural, regional and remote communities. Local news serves a vital function in so many parts of rural and regional Australia. Rural and regional Australians shouldn't be served a diet of irrelevant capital city stories.
"The old media laws were created before the internet, so it made sense to overhaul them. It also made sense to ensure local news was either retained or enhanced – and that's what we've done. To know a review of the effectiveness of local content laws will be conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority two years after this reform provides an extra safety net for local communities concerned about local news content.
"I thank Communications Minister Mitch Fifield for his collaborative and open-minded approach to dealing with this issue."
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