On 3 March 2016, the Senate referred the provisions of the Broadcasting
Legislation Amendment (Media Reform) Bill 2016 to the Senate Environment and
Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 12 May 2016.
The bill would amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) by
repealing two media ownership and control rules: the '75 per cent audience
reach rule' and the '2 out of 3 rule cross-media control rule'. The bill
would also amend and introduce additional local programming obligations for
regional commercial television broadcasting licensees. In particular,
additional local programming requirements would apply if, as a result of a
change in control, licences become part of a group of commercial television licences
whose combined licence area populations exceed 75 per cent of the
Conduct of the inquiry
In accordance with its usual practice, the committee advertised the
inquiry on its website and wrote to relevant individuals and organisations
inviting submissions. The date for receipt of submissions was 21 March 2016.
The committee received 21 submissions, which are listed at Appendix 1.
The public submissions are also available on the committee's website at www.aph.gov.au/senate_ec.
Public hearings were held in Canberra on 31 March 2016 and in Melbourne
on 29 April 2016. A list of witnesses who gave evidence at the hearings is
at Appendix 2. The transcripts of evidence may be accessed through the
The committee thanks all of the individuals and organisations that
contributed to the inquiry.
Implications of prorogation and a
new session of Parliament
On 21 March 2016, the Governor-General issued a Proclamation proroguing
the Parliament from 5 pm on Friday, 15 April 2016, until 9.30 am on Monday, 18 April
2016. At 9.30 am on 18 April 2016, the Parliament met for a new session.
One consequence of prorogation is that all bills on the notice papers of
the Senate and House of Representatives lapse. The bill being examined by this
inquiry originated in the House of Representatives and, at the time of reporting,
had not been restored to the Notice Paper of the House of
Representatives. However, the prorogation of the Parliament and the status of
the bill in the House of Representatives do not affect the ability of the
committee to conduct this inquiry. Senate standing committees, including this
committee, are appointed for the life of the Parliament and the matters
referred to the committee for inquiry continued into the new session.
The committee is also considering the 'provisions' of the bill, rather
than the bill itself.
Thus, the committee has proceeded with the inquiry and conducted its deliberations
on the provisions of the bill.
Reports of other committees
When examining a bill or draft bill, the committee takes into account
any relevant comments published by the Senate Standing Committee for the
Scrutiny of Bills. The Scrutiny of Bills Committee assesses legislative
proposals against a set of accountability standards that focus on the effect of
proposed legislation on individual rights, liberties and obligations, and on
In its Alert Digest No. 4 of 2016, the Scrutiny of Bills
Committee stated that it had no comment on the bill.
Structure of the report
This report comprises three chapters. Chapter 1 has outlined
introductory information about the referral and conduct of the inquiry. Chapter
2 provides an overview of the current media ownership and control rules and the
proposed changes contained in the bill. The evidence received about the bill is
outlined and discussed in Chapter 3. The committee's findings are also outlined
in Chapter 3.
Note on references
In this report, references to the committee Hansard transcripts
are to the proof transcripts. Page numbers may vary between proof and official Hansard
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