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ABA report on regional television local news.



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ABA Report on Regional Television Local News

The Government will consider whether the ABA recommendation that regional broadcasters provide viewers with at least six local news bulletins per week should be incorporated into its media ownership legislation.

In June, the Government members of the Senate Committee that examined the media ownership legislation recommended that the Government consider extending the minimum local news requirement in the legislation applying to cross media holders in regional markets to all regional television broadcasters.

The Coalition's media ownership legislation requires regionally-based cross media holders that have free to air television holdings to deliver at least five local news and weather services per week that cover issues of local significance.

The ABA's recommendation of six local news bulletins per week differs only slightly from this proposed legislative requirement but would, of course, apply to regional broadcasters generally, not only to cross-media holders.

The Coalition Government recognises that there is considerable concern in many regional communities about the lack of news coverage of local issues, particularly following the closure of local news services by two regional broadcasters last year.

This community concern needs to be balanced against claims by regional broadcasters that local news does not rate sufficiently highly to warrant, for example, 30-minute daily local news bulletins. Some regional broadcasters are also concerned about recent increases in their affiliation fees as well as the need to partially fund the transition to digital transmissions (the Government is funding 50% of these costs under the Regional Equalisation Plan).

After the Senate Committee report was released, the Government indicated that the recommendations of the Coalition members of the Committee, including the possible extension of the cross-media local news requirement, warranted serious consideration.

Now that the ABA has reported on this matter, the Government will consider the most appropriate way of ensuring that television viewers in all regional markets have access to news and information services that are relevant to their local communities.

Media Contact: David Quilty, 02 6277 7480 or 0419 421 803 Website: www.richardalston.dcita.gov.au

 

203/02 27 August 2002