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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 150

Mr DUFFY (Minister for Communications)(11.14) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The Broadcasting Stations Licence Fees Act 1964 and the Television Stations Licence Fees Act 1964, which are both in the nature of taxing Acts, prescribe the annual licence fees which are payable by companies operating commercial radio and television stations licensed under the Broadcasting and Television Act . A flat fee of $500 is payable on the grant of any new station licence. Thereafter, each station is required to pay, on the anniversary of the grant of its licence, a fee calculated on the basis of a rising percentage of its annual gross earnings-AGE-from radio or television transmissions during the immediately preceding financial year. When the current progressive fee scale was set in 1981 , the amending Acts prescribed ceilings upon the maximum fee rates payable by television stations, 7.5 per cent, and by radio stations, 5 per cent.

The main purpose of imposing a fee on companies licensed to earn income from broadcasting is to contribute to overall Commonwealth revenues. Changes contained in this Bill and its counterpart, the Television Stations Licence Fees Amendment Bill, which I will introduce shortly, will raise an additional $2.4m in 1983-84. Forty thousand dollars of this increase will result from changes to the fee schedule for broadcasting stations. The Government is concerned that due notice is taken of the ability of the broadcasting industry to pay. Accordingly, the measures contained in this Bill will affect only one station-the station with the highest turnover out of a total of 134. The proposed changes to the fee scales consist of a small increase in licence fee rates for radio stations with average gross earnings in excess of $9m and an increase in the maximum licence fee rates payable from 5 per cent to 5.5 per cent of average gross earnings. These changes will be effective from 1 September 1983. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Dr Harry Edwards) adjourned.