Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Television Licence Fees Amendment Bill 2006

Bill home page  


Download WordDownload Word


Download PDFDownload PDF

 

2004-2005-2006

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

                                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

TELEVISION LICENCE FEES AMENDMENT BILL 2006

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of Senator the Hon. Helen Coonan,

Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts)

 

 



TELEVISION LICENCE FEES AMENDMENT BILL 2006

 

 

OUTLINE

 

This Bill is related to the amendments to be made in the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Television) Bill 2006 (the Digital TV Bill). 

 

The Digital TV Bill provides that a commercial television broadcasting licence will authorise the provision of more than one service (or ‘channel’ of programming) from 1 January 2007. Specifically, commercial broadcasters will be able to provide a non-simulcast high definition (HDTV) service (HDTV multichannel) from 1 January 2007, one standard definition (SDTV) multichannel from 1 January 2009 and any number of multichannels from the end of the simulcast period.

 

Commercial television licensees are currently required to pay licence fees under the Television Licence Fees Act 1964 . The fees payable are calculated on the basis of the ‘gross earnings’ of the licensee. Accordingly, this Bill amends the definition of ‘gross earnings’ to reflect the fact that commercial television broadcasting licensees will be able to earn revenue from the provision of multiple services. The effect of this Bill is that all revenue derived by a commercial television broadcasting licensee from the televising of advertisements or other matter on all services provided by the licensee will be included for the purposes of calculating the licence fee.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT

 

The ability to provide a greater number of services, and thus screen a greater number of advertisements, may increase the gross earnings of licensees. This would result in the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) collecting more revenue from licence fees. However, there are a number of factors which may mitigate this:

 

·          Broadcasters will not be prevented from maintaining their existing simulcast HDTV services rather than operating an HDTV multichannel. In this case there would be unlikely to be a change in licence fee revenue between 2007 and 2009 as a result of this Bill.

 

·          Broadcasters will be permitted but not required to operate an SDTV multichannel from 1 January 2009. Some or all broadcasters may choose not to do so. Similarly, broadcasters may choose not to operate any additional services after the end of the simulcast.

 

·          It is unclear whether the introduction of additional services and advertising time will affect the revenue raised by broadcasters’ main services. However, broadcasters are most likely to provide additional services where they perceive an overall commercial benefit from doing so.

 

Given these factors, any financial impact of the Bill is likely to be net positive in terms of revenue but it is not possible to quantify in advance of the introduction of additional services.



NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

 

Clause 1 - Short title

 

Clause 1 provides for the citation of the Television Licence Fees Amendment Act 2006 (the Amendment Act).

 

Clause 2 - Commencement

 

The Amendment Act would commence on 1 January 2007. 

 

Clause 3 - Schedule(s)

 

By virtue of this clause, a provision of the Television Licence Fees Act 1964 (the Act) is amended as set out in Schedule 1 to the Bill.

 

 

SCHEDULE 1 - AMENDMENT

 

Television Licence Fees Act 1964

 

Item 1 - Subsection 4(1) (definition of gross earnings )

 

Item 1 amends the definition of ‘gross earnings’ in subsection 4(1) of the Act. 

 

Item 1 is related to the amendments to be made in the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Television) Bill 2006 (the Digital TV Bill).  The Digital TV Bill provides that a commercial television broadcasting licence will authorise the provision of more than one service (or ‘channel’ of programming) from 1 January 2007. 

 

Currently, a commercial television broadcasting licensee may only provide a single service under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA).  The same service must be transmitted by the commercial television broadcasting licensee simultaneously in analogue mode and standard definition television (SDTV) digital mode (paragraphs 7(1)(k)-(na) of Schedule 2, and subclauses 6(3) and 6(8A) Schedule 4 to the BSA).  Commercial broadcasters are also required to transmit a version of the service in high definition television (HDTV) digital mode (subclause 37E(1) of Schedule 4 to the BSA).  When broadcasting the HDTV version of the service, commercial television broadcasting licensees are required to meet a quota of at least 1040 hours per year of HDTV programs (subclause 37E(2B) of Schedule 4 and the Broadcasting Services (Digital Television Standards) Regulations 2000 ).

 

Under the Digital TV Bill, from 1 January 2007 a commercial television broadcasting licensee may satisfy their HDTV quota obligations by providing a different HDTV service than the simulcast service (Schedule 2 to the Digital TV Bill).  In other words, a licensee may provide a channel of programming that is transmitted in analogue and SDTV digital mode, and an entirely separate channel of programming transmitted in HDTV digital mode.  From 1 January 2009, a commercial television broadcasting licensee may also choose to provide an additional channel of programming in SDTV mode, in addition to the simulcast service (Schedule 3 to the Digital TV Bill). 

 

From the end of the simulcast period, when the obligation to provide a service simultaneously in analogue and SDTV digital mode ceases, commercial television broadcasting licensees may choose to provide multiple channels of programming in SDTV and/or HDTV digital mode (Schedule 3 to the Digital TV Bill).  The only limitation on the provision of new services is that a commercial television licensee may only use the spectrum frequencies specified in the related transmitter licence issued under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (which authorises transmission of the services).  This means that a commercial television broadcasting licensee can use only the 7 MHz of spectrum it is allocated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority when providing new digital services.

 

Commercial television broadcasting licensees are required to pay licence fees under the Act, and the fees payable are calculated on the basis of the ‘gross earnings’ of the licensee (section 6 of the Act).  Accordingly, a consequential amendment to the definition of ‘gross earnings’ is required to reflect the fact that commercial television broadcasting licensees will be able to earn revenue from the provision of multiple services in the future.  The effect of this amendment is that all revenue derived by a commercial television broadcasting licensee from the televising of advertisements or other matter on services provided by the licensee will be included for the purposes of calculating the licence fees payable for the commercial television broadcasting licence.