The Turnbull Government will maintain the current level of base funding for the ABC and SBS over the next three years and, as part of the Turnbull Government’s media reform agenda, licence fees payable by commercial television and radio broadcasters will be permanently reduced by 25 per cent.
Investing in public broadcasting
The Turnbull Government’s maintenance of base funding for the ABC and SBS over the next three years will be worth $3.1 billion and $814.2 million respectively.
This continuation of base funding recognises that the broadcasters have achieved a range of efficiencies following the findings of the ABC and SBS Efficiency Study and the Transmission Options Project, which identified savings in back office and transmission costs.
The ABC and SBS will also be provided with an additional $49.7 million over three years to support local news, current affairs and multicultural services:
The ABC will receive an additional $41.4 million over three years towards local news and current affairs services, particularly those located outside the capital cities, and to continue to deliver news content across its digital and mobile platforms.
SBS will receive an additional $8.3 million over three years to ensure it is able to continue its commitment to multilingual, multicultural and Indigenous media services.
In addition, SBS will receive $6.9 million in 2016-17 to replace revenue the corporation has been unable to raise after legislation that would have provided advertising flexibility failed to pass the Senate.
Enabling a more competitive environment
Licence fees for commercial television and radio broadcasters will be reduced to enable these broadcasters to more effectively meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive global environment and invest in Australian content. The fees will be reduced by 25 per cent with the first reduction applying to the 2015-16 financial year.
These fees are currently levied as a sliding percentage of revenue (at a top rate of 4.5 per cent for commercial television licensees who earn $100 million or more and 3.25 per cent for commercial radio licensees who earn $11.5 million or more). The Government’s decision to reduce the fees recognises that the Australian media market has changed significantly since broadcasting licence fees were first introduced, with the move to online and on-demand content fragmenting the market for media services and increasing competition for audiences and advertising dollars.
In turn, this is placing increasing financial pressure on Australia’s commercial broadcasters whose main competitors, including online operators such as Netflix and Apple, pay no licence fees.The Government will consider further reductions in broadcasting licence fees later in 2016 as part of a broader package of reforms that will include consideration of the pricing of broadcasting spectrum.
This will build on the Government’s first tranche of media reforms which will repeal redundant media control rules and enhance local content obligations on regional commercial television broadcasters.
As a whole, these reforms will ensure our media laws keep pace with changes in technology and media consumption habits, and give our traditional media companies the flexibility to compete and adapt in the changing media landscape.More information is available at: www.communications.gov.au/budget