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Thursday, 15 February 2007
Page: 7

Mr McGAURAN (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (9:21 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Australian government has provided $48.5 million over four years to establish an Indigenous television content service—National Indigenous TV Ltd (NITV).

When launched later this year, the NITV will be distributed via Imparja’s satellite narrowcast service, channel 31, and will be retransmitted initially throughout 147 remote Indigenous communities.

This will, for the first time, give Indigenous communities a dedicated Indigenous television service. This will build on the successful Imparja service which currently provides a number of hours of Indigenous programming each day.

This bill makes amendments to both the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and the Copyright Act 1968 to facilitate the introduction of NITV.

The current section 212 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 specifically exempts from most of the legal and regulatory obligations contained in the act, any services that are merely unaltered retransmissions of the signals from a commercial, national or community broadcaster.

However, there is no similar exemption for retransmissions of signals from narrowcasters. This means that retransmission of NITV programming from its satellite distribution channel, Channel 31, will not be covered by exemptions in section 212.

The bill amends the BSA to extend the exemption in section 212 to persons who retransmit NITV programming. The amendment applies to NITV programming only, as this programming is unlike any other, addressing the broadcasting needs of a sector of Australian society not currently well catered for.

Other providers, such as pay TV broadcasters, may also agree to carry NITV programming and the bill removes any disincentive to them doing so. However, the exemption provided in section 212 does not prevent an action being taken for infringement of copyright where retransmission occurs by someone other than a self-help provider.

Accordingly, the bill will also amend part VC of the Copyright Act to extend the statutory licence scheme for the retransmission of free-to-air broadcasts in that provision to apply it to retransmission of NITV programming.

I commend this bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Edwards) adjourned.