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ABC/SBS Competitive Neutrality Inquiry Released

An independent panel made up of eminent Australians has found the ABC and SBS are meeting their competitive neutrality obligations, but recommended they be more open about their competitive activities.

Minister for Communications and the Arts Mitch Fifield today released the expert panel’s report on the inquiry into the competitive neutrality of Australia’s national broadcasters.

“The panel recognised all media organisations are operating in an environment of heighted competitive pressure, driven by changes in the way audiences engage and the entry of global companies into the Australian media market,” Minister Fifield said.

The panel found the national broadcasters are applying a ‘best endeavours’ approach to meet competitive neutrality requirements but recommended they improve their transparency, reporting and other processes relating to their competitive activities and Charter performance.

The panel also noted the ABC and SBS Boards should give greater guidance on how they take account of other media market participants.

Minister Fifield said he recognised that the Charters of the national broadcasters are broad and allow flexibility in how they are implemented by the respective Boards.

"It is now up to the national broadcasters to act on these recommendations,” he said.

Earlier this year the Government appointed Robert Kerr (former head of office at the Productivity Commission), Julie Flynn (former CEO of Free TV) and Sandra Levy AO (former Director of ABC TV) to undertake the inquiry and determine whether the national broadcasters are operating in a manner consistent with the general principles of competitive neutrality, as defined by the Commonwealth Competitive Neutrality Policy.

The inquiry received a total of 6,839 submissions from members of the public, commercial media, industry stakeholders and the national broadcasters themselves.

The panel’s report is available at: www.communications.gov.au/competitive-neutrality-report

Media contacts:

Guy Creighton | 0438 815 302 | Guy.Creighton [at] communications.gov.au