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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 1879

Senator LAUCKE (South Australia) - This Bill provides for an increase in the payment of fees in respect of licences for commercial broadcasting stations. It is a budgetary measure and it increases the basic licence fee for broadcasting stations by 4 times from $50 to $200 and also produces a new scale of rates for taxing the gross earnings of the broadcasting stations. It is said in the second reading speech that the increase in additional revenue which is to be gained from this proposal is $120,000 in 1973-74. Last year the income from licencing amounted to $491,204. The increase in fees, naturally, would have the greatest impact on the viability of the smaller stations. I notice that effort has been made to ease the incidence of the rating in the very low scales of earnings.

In the old Bill the amount of 1 per cent of gross earnings was levied on income not exceeding $ lm. The new proposal is for 1 per cent of gross earnings up to $500,000. In the old scale there was a 2 per cent levy on earnings exceeding $ 1 m and not exceeding $2m. In the new proposal it is 1.5 per cent of gross earnings from $500,000 to $lm. There are 8 categories of assessment, as it were, in the new scale. There were four in the old scale. In the old scale of fees there was a rise from 1 per cent to 4 per cent, whereas now there are gradients of 0.5 per cent increases over the figures hitherto covered by the old scale. In effect, it means that the industry will be paying $150 more per fee for licence. There are 118 commercial stations in Australia and the total additional revenue is expected to be $120,000. It is always a matter of concern when charges are increased. In the case of the smaller broadcasting stations, particularly those in the outback areas and those in the remoter parts of Australia, the impact of increased costs bears heavily. I am gratified to see an endeavour being made to assist the stations in that category. I appreciate the fact that revenue must be obtained. There has been no increase since 1964, in either the licence fees or the rates of levy imposed on the gross earnings of the stations. The Opposition will not oppose this Bill.

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