The majority voted in favour of disagreeing with an amendment introduced by Greenway MP Michelle Rowland (Labor), which means it failed. Its purpose was to remove Schedule 1 from the bill. The schedule halves the annual expenditure requirement for Australian drama programming from 10% to 5% for subscription television broadcasting licensees.
(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 2), omit the table item.
(2) Schedule 1, page 3 (line 1) to page 6 (line 7), omit the Schedule.
What does this bill do?
According to the explanatory memorandum, the bill:
contain[s] a package of five measures designed to improve the operation for services in the broadcasting sector and to simplify regulation by removing redundant and otherwise unnecessary provisions.
The proposed measures in the Bill would amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) and the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the RA) to:
a. reduce regulatory burden on subscription television broadcasting licensees by halving the annual expenditure requirement for Australian drama programming from 10 per cent to 5 per cent and amend on an ongoing basis;
b. move the subscription television captioning rules from the BSA into a disallowable Ministerial instrument;
c. repeal a redundant provision from the digital radio framework in the RA to reflect that there is now only one spectrum band for digital radio;
d. extend grandfathering arrangements for new population determinations made by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA); and
e. extend the timeframe for ACMA to implement grants under the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation (RASPI) Fund beyond 30 June 2021.
Note that explanatory memoranda are prepared by the party introducing the bill and so are not as reliable as bill digests, which are prepared by the parliamentary library. However, there is not currently a bills digest available for this bill.
Labor will not stand in the way of minor regulatory housekeeping, which is much of what this bill presents, but we will not be a part of this government's attempt to dismantle bit by bit the Australian screen content rules without anything new being put in their place. Labor will not stand in the way of the changes to captioning rules, changes to digital radio channel plans, changes affecting regional commercial radio licensees or the extension of the time frame for the ACMA to make grants for original journalism. These measures may not be perfect, but Labor won't stand in their way. But Labor will not support the halving of Foxtel's Australian screen content obligation in the absence of new requirements to support the screening of stories on our screens.