Regulation Impact Statement Updates

Official website for publishing regulatory impact analysis information for regulatory decisions announced by the Australian Government, COAG and COAG Councils.

Australian content multi-channel obligations for regional broadcasters

Aust Gov
12th June 2020

Regulation Impact Statement – Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

On 11 June 2020, the Australian Government introduced legislation to amend the Australian content multi‑channel quota obligation in section 121G of the Broadcasting Services ACT 1992 (BSA). This permits commercial television licensees in regional or remote licence areas who are unable to meet the multi-channel quota of 1,460 hours of Australian content in a particular year, to be deemed to have satisfied this obligation in certain circumstances.

The RIS developed by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) identifies a problem where programming decisions by metropolitan licensees are leaving their regional and remote affiliate partners at risk of not complying with their Australian content multi‑channel quota obligation. These difficulties were highlighted by industry for a number of years, and came to a head when several licensees in regional and remote licence areas failed to comply with the multi-channel content quota in 2017 due to programming changes by their metropolitan affiliate partner. Noting that these difficulties were unlikely to ease, mostly as market forces significantly reduced the ability of regional and remote licensees to resolve the difficulties on their own, the Government decided to act and amend the quota obligation.

The preferred option outlined in the RIS proposes a deeming provision be made available to a regional or remote licensee who is unable to meet the multi-channel quota. The provision will allow a relevant licensee to be deemed to have met the quota obligation provided the licensee does not broadcast less than the amount of Australian content broadcast on the equivalent metropolitan multi-channel(s) during the same year. In comparison to the alternatives, this option is expected to achieve the stated objectives without having a significant impact on the volume of Australian content provided on multi-channels. In addition, the option does not impose a significant cost on a regional or remote licensee beyond requiring it to inform the regulator of its intention to rely on the deeming provision. This option has no impact on metropolitan television licensees.

The Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) assessed the Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) prepared by DITRDC as compliant with the Government’s requirements but not consistent with best practice. OBPR considers that a higher level of analysis is required for the RIS to be consistent with best practice, particularly regarding evidence of the nature and magnitude of the problem and the need for government action. However, the RIS acknowledges the areas where the Department does not have this clear evidence, while making the case why, on balance, the Department recommends a change from the status quo. While not a strong case for change, it is adequate against the Government’s impact analysis requirements.

The RIS estimates the proposal will have nil regulatory costs.

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