The New Matilda Media Convenor Emma Dawson responded to Meeting the digital challenge, Minister Helen Coonan’s discussion paper on media reform, in a submission to the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts last week.
The submission presents the New Matilda view that the reforms proposed in the discussion paper do not go nearly far enough towards advancing Australia’s digital media sector and providing the best media services currently available worldwide to Australian citizens and media consumers.
The submission recommends that we fast-track the uptake of digital broadcasting and develop the opportunities which this would provide for more channels and greater diversity in programming.
However, because the traditional media players are currently the only organizations with the means to produce content for new platforms of delivery, our submission also outlines the steps we need to take to ensure that any changes do not further concentrate power in the hands of a few huge multinational service providers .
- Provision of one free set top box to enable digital service to all Australian households;
- Increased funding to the ABC and SBS to produce additional content for digital broadcasting;
- Immediate removal of restrictions on free-to-air multi-channelling;
- Re-instatement of the original timeframe for conversion from analogue to digital broadcasting, for both television and radio services;
- Retainment of current cross-media ownership restrictions and removal of restrictions on foreign ownership, subject to local content requirements;
- New mandated minimums for Australian television and radio content, specifying a certain percentage of new scripted drama to distinguish it from game and quiz shows, to apply to all commercial and public broadcasters;
- Legislation to ensure that Telstra is required to provide the necessary broadband and other digital service provisions to all Australian households, regardless of establishment costs, as a part of its public service charter, whether fully privatised or not.
Read the full submission: (link)
Stay tuned for next week, when New Matilda will publish our readers’ contributions to the media reform debate.