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US Free Trade Agreement Implementation Bill 2004

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2002-2003-2004

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION BILL 2004

 

 

 

 

SUPPLEMENTARY EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

Amendments to be Moved on Behalf of the Government

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of

the Hon Mark Vaile MP, Minister for Trade)

 

 

 

 

 



 

US FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION BILL 2004

 

 

AMENDMENTS TO BE MOVED ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT

 

 

OUTLINE

 

The proposed amendments will amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) to require the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) to maintain the current 55% Australian content quota for television programs and the 80% Australian content quota for advertising.

 

In negotiating the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), the Australian Government committed not to raise the Australian content quotas for free to air commercial television above the current 55% quota for overall programming between 6am and midnight, and the 80% quota for advertising between 6am and midnight.  These quotas have been imposed by the ABA under section 122 of the BSA.

 

Under the terms of the AUSFTA, these commitments are subject to a ‘ratchet’ mechanism.  This means that if the 55% and 80% requirements were to be reduced in the future, they could not thereafter be increased (not even to return to current levels).  These are the only audiovisual commitments in the AUSFTA that are subject to the ratchet mechanism.

 

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties recommended that the Government amend the BSA to incorporate those elements of Australian content requirements that are subject to the ratchet mechanism to ensure that they cannot be reduced in the future, except through a deliberative decision of Parliament.  The proposed amendments will have this effect.

 

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT

 

The proposed amendments are not expected to have any significant financial impact on Commonwealth expenditure or revenue.

 



NOTES ON AMENDMENTS

 

AMENDMENT (1)

 

Amendment (1) amends clause 2 of the US Free Trade Agreement Bill 2004 (the Bill). Clause 2 sets out the commencement dates for the various schedules to the Bill.  Amendment (1) provides that new Schedule 10 of the Bill, inserted by amendment (2), commences on Royal Assent.

 

AMENDMENT (2)

 

Amendment (2) inserts new Schedule 10 of the Bill.  Schedule 10 inserts new subsections 122(5) and 122(6) of the BSA, which will ensure that the current quotas imposed by the ABA on commercial broadcasters in relation to Australian television programming and advertisements are preserved.

 

Subsection 122(1) of the BSA provides that the ABA must determine standards to be observed by commercial television broadcasting licensees.  Subsection 122(2) provides that standards made by the ABA under subsection 122(1) must relate to programs for children and the Australian content of programs.

 

New subsection 122(5) provides that the ABA must ensure that there is a standard in force under subsection 122(1) that is the same as, or has the same effect as, the standard set out in section 9 of the Broadcasting Services (Australian Content) Standard 1999 (the Australian Content Standard) as in force on 4 August 2004. 

 

The note to new subsection 122(5) explains the reference to section 9 of the Australian Content Standard.  Section 9 of the Australian Content Standard provides that a commercial television broadcasting licensee must ensure that at least 55% of all programming broadcast in a year between the hours of 6am and midnight is Australian programming. The effect of new subsection 122(5) is that the ABA cannot vary, revoke or remake the Australian Content Standard without preserving the 55% quota set out in section 9.

 

Amendment 2 makes a corresponding change in relation to Australian advertisements.  New subsection 122(6) provides that the ABA must ensure that there is a standard in force under subsection 122(1) that is the same as, or has the same effect as, the standard set out in section 5 of the Television Program Standard 23—Australian Content in Advertising (the Advertising Standard) as in force on 4 August 2004. 

 

The note to new subsection 122(6) explains the reference to section 5 of the Advertising Standard.  Section 5 of the Advertising Standard provides that a commercial television broadcasting licensee must ensure that at least 80% of all advertising time in a year between the hours of 6am and midnight is occupied by Australian advertisements.  The effect of new subsection 122(5) is that the ABA cannot vary, revoke or remake the Advertising Standard without preserving the 80% quota set out in section 5.