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Thursday, 14 November 2002
Page: 6364

Senator MACKAY (12:53 PM) —The Labor Party has circulated a second reading amendment to the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2002. This legislation amends the Broadcasting Services Act to delay the start of the high definition television, HDTV, obligations on broadcasters. The proposed opposition amendment delays the introduction of the 20 hours per week high definition quota on metropolitan, commercial and national television broadcasters by six months—that is, until July 2003. This is a holding action to enable the government to finalise legislative changes to the government's high definition television legislation, including flagged changes for an annualised rather than a weekly high definition quota. To ensure industry certainty in the television broadcasting sector, Labor will not oppose the bill. However, we do condemn the Howard government and Senator Alston for their botched digital television policy. Therefore, on behalf of the opposition, I move:

At the end of the motion, add “but the Senate condemns the Government for:

(a) continuing to fiddle with its disintegrating digital television regime without addressing the overall problems inherent in the regime;

(b) refusing to acknowledge that its digital television regime is failing, particularly with respect to the very poor consumer take up of digital receivers;

(c) creating confusion in the broadcasting sector by promoting multi channelling but not acting to enable it to occur;

(d) maintaining a failed datacasting strategy which has been completely rejected by the media sector;

(e) granting $260 million in digital television conversion funding rebates to the regional television networks to cover the cost of digital conversion without entrenching guarantees that existing services such as regional news services would be maintained.”