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 50 MESSAGE FROM THE SENATE—BROADCASTING SERVICES AMENDMENT (MEDIA OWNERSHIP) BILL 2002

Message No. 281, 26 June 2003, from the Senate was reported returning the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Media Ownership) Bill 2002 with amendments.

Ordered—That the amendments be considered forthwith.

On the motion of Mr Slipper (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration), amendments Nos 1 to 15, 17 to 19, 21, 22, 25 to 41 and 44 to 48 were agreed to, after debate.

Mr Slipper moved—That amendments Nos 16, 20, 23, 24, 42 and 43 be disagreed to.

Debate ensued.

Question—put.

The House divided (the Deputy Speaker, Mr Jenkins, in the Chair)—

AYES, 73

Mr AbbottMrs ElsonDr KempMr Slipper
Mr AnthonyMr EntschMrs LeyMr A. D. H. Smith
Fran BaileyMr FarmerMr LindsayMr Somlyay
Mr BairdMr Forrest*Mr LloydDr Southcott
Mr BaldwinMrs GallusMr McArthur*Dr Stone
Mr BarresiMs GambaroMrs MayMr C. P. Thompson
Mr BartlettMrs GashMrs MoylanMr Ticehurst
Mr BillsonMr GeorgiouMr NairnMr Tollner
Mrs B. K. BishopMr HaaseDr NelsonMr Truss
Ms J. I. BishopMr HardgraveMr NevilleMr Tuckey
Mr BroughMr HartsuykerMs PanopoulosMr M. A. J. Vaile
Mr CadmanMr HawkerMr PearceMrs D. S. Vale
Mr CameronMr HockeyMr ProsserMr Wakelin
Mr CausleyMrs HullMr PyneDr Washer
Mr CharlesMr HuntMr RandallMr Williams
Mr CioboMr JohnsonMr RuddockMs Worth
Mr CobbMr JullMr Schultz
Mrs DraperMrs D. M. KellyMr Scott
Mr DuttonJackie KellyMr Secker

NOES, 62

Mr AdamsMr L. D. T. FergusonMr McClellandMs Roxon
Mr AlbaneseMr M. J. FergusonMs J. S. McFarlaneMr Rudd
Mr AndrenMs GeorgeMs MacklinMr Sawford
Mr BeazleyMr GibbonsMr McLeayMr Sciacca
Mr BevisMs GillardMr McMullanMr Sidebottom
Mr BreretonMs GriersonMr MelhamMr S. F. Smith
Ms BurkeMr GriffinMr MossfieldMr Snowdon
Mr ByrneMs HallMr MurphyMr Swan
Ms CorcoranMr HattonMs O'ByrneMr Tanner
Mr CoxMs HoareMr B. P. O'ConnorMr K. J. Thomson
Mrs CrosioMrs IrwinMr G. M. O'ConnorMs Vamvakinou
Mr Danby*Ms JacksonMr OrganMr Wilkie
Mr EdwardsMr KerrMs PlibersekMr Windsor
Ms EllisMs C. F. KingMr PriceMr Zahra
Mr EmersonMr LathamMr Quick*
Mr EvansMs LivermoreMr Ripoll

* Tellers

Pairs

Mr Anderson Mr Sercombe

Mr K. J. Andrews Mr Fitzgibbon

And so it was resolved in the affirmative.

Mr Slipper presented reasons, which were circulated, and are as follows:

Reasons of the House of Representatives for disagreeing to the amendments of the Senate

Senate Amendments (16), (20) and (23)

These amendments prevent a cross-media exemption certificate being issued in a metropolitan licence area where the set of media operations includes a television broadcasting licence and a newspaper associated with that licence area.

These amendments will curtail the competitiveness of smaller sized media firms and new entrants, who will not be able to attain the necessary economies of scale and scope to compete effectively against the larger incumbents. They therefore perversely deny small and new players the key advantages of cross-media reform in the very markets where the range of voices is greatest.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept these amendments.

Senate Amendment (24)

The amendment requires commercial television broadcasters operating under an exemption certificate that includes a newspaper to establish an editorial oversight board. This is an intrusion on the freedom of commercial broadcasters to make legitimate decisions about editorial content and staffing, such as the key position of the news editor.

This amendment also imposes highly intrusive obligations on the proprietor to seek Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) approval of their commercial objectives. This has the potential to severely hamper the ability of commercial broadcasters to run a sound and workable business.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

Senate Amendment (42)

This amendment would introduce new powers for the ABA to recommend that commercial media outlets publish apologies or provide a right of reply where it upholds a complaint that the outlet has acted contrary to a relevant code of practice.

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992(BSA) already requires broadcasting industry sectors to have in place codes of practice, which must be registered by the ABA. Where the ABA finds that a broadcaster has breached a code of practice, its normal practice is to work with the broadcaster or the appropriate industry organisation to ensure that systems are in place to ensure that the breach will not re-occur.

The results of an investigation by the ABA are also published thereby causing embarrassment and criticism of the broadcaster concerned.

The ABA has the power, if necessary, to impose binding industry standards.This is a framework which works effectively.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

Senate Amendment (43)

This amendment would add a further example of action the ABA can recommend that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Special Broadcasting Service undertake where it upholds a complaint that the broadcaster has acted contrary to a relevant code of practice.

This amendment is unnecessary. The ABA already has adequate powers to investigate complaints and make appropriate recommendations to the national broadcasters.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

On the motion of Mr Slipper, the reasons were adopted.