Media rules have become ridiculous

The Australian Financial Review | Editorial | 26 October 2015

Has a piece of industry regulation ever been held up to so much ridicule by those it is supposed to regulate as the law that restricts commercial free-to-air television broadcasters to three-quarters or less of the geographic national marketplace of viewers? At least until now, Seven West Media has opposed moves to liberalising the archaic rules on who is allowed to own what media, even if that opposition has occurred in murky backroom lobbying. Yet, at the same time, it has happily distributed much of its content – such as the Australian Open tennis and Sunrise – over the internet to anyone in Australia with a personal computer. That includes into regional areas the broadcaster has licensed its affiliate Prime Media to broadcast the very same content.

Now, as The Australian Financial Review reports this morning, Seven will use next week's Melbourne Cup coverage to live stream across mobile phones and tablets as well. And, as we also reveal today, the Nine network is about to unveil plans to stream its three television stations over the internet. So, as Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims boils down the farce, you can't own a television station that broadcasts to more than 75 per cent of the nation, but you can distribute that same content to 100 per cent of the nation over the internet. Where is the sense in either that or the allied rule that restricts a media company to only two of a newspaper, television station or radio station in a major market?

View the article on the Australian Financial Review.