Nationals Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie says the news that the Federal Government has back flipped and abandoned its plans to remove the 75 per cent reach rule for television broadcasters is another sign of the dysfunction and chaos that has characterised Prime Minister Gillard and her team.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy conceded yesterday that the Federal Labor Government would not take the media reforms to the upcoming election after a failed attempt to pass them through the Parliament in March.
The proposed media reforms would have allowed big metropolitan based television networks to merge with regionally based affiliates. This would have put the future of locally sourced news, weather and content in jeopardy.
During hastily convened government inquiries, CEO of WIN Television Andrew Lancaster gave a realistic perspective as part of his evidence to the inquiry into the removal of the 75 percent reach rule.
“It would be the end of regional television … there would be no differentiation between what comes out of Sydney and what is aired in Victoria,” Mr Lancaster said.
Senator McKenzie has been a vocal critic of the proposal to remove the reach rule, challenging Senator Conroy in Parliament a number of times on the issue.
“Any changes that contribute to the dilution of local content must be challenged. People in rural and regional areas have a right to see news, weather and sport that effect the way they live and work.
“Australia has a diverse range of media and communication outlets across a range of technological platforms. As globalised access to news continues, the importance of localised news becomes an essential part of staying informed. The proposed reforms would have threatened that unique regional voice.
“The Federal Government’s shambolic media reforms were destined to fail as they showed a complete disregard for the essential role of local news. The fact that the changes were even proposed illustrates that Labor doesn’t understand regional Australians.”