The government has been put on notice by the Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan that the impact of media reform on Indi and all rural and regional Australians will be watched closely before a review in two years.
“Now the government needs to do the work to make sure the reform is effective and does not further disadvantage rural and regional Australia. The key to doing this is by providing adequate access to nbn™ and mobile phone coverage,” Ms McGowan said.
In supporting the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Media Reform) Bill 2016 Ms McGowan acknowledged the current rules were outdated and did not contribute meaningfully to media diversity.
“The media environment has changed so significantly since the introduction of the 75 per cent audience reach rule and the 2 out of 3 cross-media control rule are not effective in promoting media diversity.”
There have been significant local media cuts in Indi in recent times, including losing 23 journalists from the Border Mail, Prime’s broadcast studio in Albury, the loss of the Country Hour on the ABC and the nationalisation of the 7.30 Report. Ms McGowan said these losses were not prevented by the current rules.
“In fact, these rules now act to restrict certain media companies from being able to better compete.
“At the same time we must be mindful of concerns about the character and quality of local content broadcast following any mergers that will take place.
“The Bill provides for a review of local programming requirements within two years of the commencement of its provisions. This will serve as the means of ensuring the quality provision of local media and its coverage of the stories from our region continue to best serve our regional and rural communities.”