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Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Page: 2400

Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (18:49): I thank the minister for his answer. Perhaps I can just take a different tack. I understand that this is a matter ultimately for the Treasury if there is to be a new revenue-raising measure, but, as Minister for Communications, does Senator Fifield acknowledge that the playing field is not level between the free-to-air networks and companies such as Facebook and Google. These companies act almost as aggregators, soaking up all of the content produced by traditional media outlets—outlets that have paid for their journalists and paid for their newsrooms. Facebook and Google can just disseminate that at no cost to themselves and can get the benefit of advertising revenue. Meanwhile, you have the free-to-air networks suffering that loss of advertising revenue because their content is being disseminated quite freely; it is causing a haemorrhaging of their traditional commercial models. To restate the question: does the minister have some sympathy for the fact that traditional media outlets, the free-to-air networks, have suffered significantly in commercial terms at the hands of Facebook and Google, and that they do not have the same business model in terms of expenses involved in creating news content and programming content?