- The Media Reform Bill removes the last of the rules regulating cross-media ownership of commercial radio, commercial television and associated newspapers.
- The Bill also repeals a rule which effectively prevents the regional commercial TV networks being acquired by the Nine, Seven and Ten networks, or vice-versa.
- In response to concerns about the impact of potential transactions on services in regional areas, it imposes new or increased local content quotas on any merged metropolitan and regional network.
Reform of Australia’s media ownership rules has been under discussion for several years, with at least some aspects supported by the previous Labor governments as well as by the Turnbull Liberal government.
On 2 March 2016, the reform push advanced with the tabling of the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Media Reform) Bill 2016. The Bill was then referred to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee which is due to report on 12 May.
This article outlines the main changes proposed by the Bill, against a background of previous attempts at media reform and with reference to the possible impact of these changes.