THE Federal Government has passed the biggest changes to Australian media laws in 30 years – finally, with political concessions, and in part response to the rise of the internet.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the aim of the new laws was in “strengthening Australia’s media industry, enhancing media diversity and securing local journalism jobs, particularly in regional areas”.

“These changes bring Australia’s outdated media laws into the 21st century,” Mr Turnbull said. “They now finally recognise the enormous disruption that has been caused by the internet. Australian media companies will now be better placed to compete with the big online media companies from overseas.” 

In the environment of Network 10 being insolvent and held in administration – then eventually sold to lead creditor US media giant CBS – the government has abolished broadcast licence fees and replaced them with a more modest spectrum charge. This in effect provides almost $90 million a year in ongoing financial relief to metropolitan and regional television and radio broadcasters – acknowledging the importance of free-to-air television to Australian communities.

Another community-based measure is the ordered reduction in gambling advertising during live sport broadcasts. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said this represented “a strong community dividend with the establishment of a clear ‘safe zone’ for families to enjoy live sport”.

A major financial concession is the abolition of redundant ownership rules that shackle local media companies and inhibit their ability to achieve the scale necessary to compete with foreign technology giants, according to Mr Fifield.

Also in the community interest is the retention of diversity protections that ensure multiple controllers of television and radio licences as well as minimum numbers of media voices in all markets. These are the two-to-a-market rule for commercial radio, the one-to-a-market rule for commercial television, the requirement for a minimum of five independent media voices in metropolitan markets and a minimum of four independent media voices in regional markets. These are supplemented by the competition assessments made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Higher minimum local content requirements for regional television following trigger events, including introducing minimum requirements in markets across South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and the Northern Territory for the first time.

There are also reforms to ‘anti-siphoning’ requirements – providing free access to key televised sporting events – designed to strengthen local subscription television providers.

“The package provides significant and permanent financial relief for Australia’s broadcasters, acknowledging the intense competition they face for audiences and advertising revenue, especially from online and on-demand operators,” Mr Turnbull said. “Legislation will also be introduced by the end of this year to give effect to a public register of foreign-owned media assets.”

Other items on the media law agenda are in response to specific requests from independent senators in order to have the bill passed by both houses of Parliament.

The government will implement a $60 million Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation package including which, among other things, provides a $50 million Regional and Small Publishers Innovation fund. There is also a Regional and Small Publishers Cadetship Program, to support 200 cadetships, and 60 regional journalism scholarships.

Mr Turnbull thanked the Australian media industry for its consultations and for supporting the reforms. He said discussions included WIN, Prime, Southern Cross Austereo, Nine, Seven, Ten, Fairfax, News Corp, Foxtel, Free TV, ASTRA and Commercial Radio Australia.

“The Australian media industry has been united in its support for these reforms and will now be given the fighting chance they need to secure their future,” Mr Turnbull said.

Also in the mix were the proposals of Senator Bridget McKenzie to enhance the ABC’s focus on rural and regional Australia and a range of “enhanced transparency measures” for the public broadcasters. The senator also lobbied to include the words ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ in Section 8 of the ABC Act and for the introduction of a community radio package.

“The Government also thanks the crossbench for their constructive participation and commitment to ensure these reforms were passed in the Parliament, in particular, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, the Nick Xenophon Team, Senator Derryn Hinch, Senator David Leyonhjelm, Senator Cory Bernardi and Senator Lucy Gichuhi,” Mr Turnbull said.

He criticised the approach of the Opposition in seeking to “defend media laws that were decades out of date”.


A QUT study has challenged a marketing maxim that too many product offerings, such as those offered on aggregate websites, cause choice overload and actually decrease purchases. The findings are important, in particular, for online retailers.

QUT marketing lecturer Frank Mathmann said his research found a customer segment who were ‘high assessors’ and who were not spoiled by choice, but, rather, preferred selecting from a wide range. 

“Customers who have a strong interest in comparing and evaluating options are high assessors and likely to make multiple comparisons among multiple options to find the best choice,” Dr Mathmann said. He is based at QUT’s School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations.

“My research experiments found high assessors were willing to pay more for items they had chosen from a large range than from a small range,” Dr Mathmann said.

"This was because they had invested thought in the decision and so were more certain of their choice, which gave their chosen product greater value to them.

“This has important implications for digital retailers. By segmenting customers according to their assessment orientation, they can adjust the size of their assortment easily, similar to the way they already tailor product recommendations to customer tastes.

“It also highlights the problem for Australian online retailers who have a smaller set of offerings than their US counterparts.”

Dr Mathmann’s experimental research found that assessment was susceptible to ‘priming’.

“We found that customers who received a ‘priming’ advertisement which suggested they make the best decision possible could become high assessors and spend time evaluating options,” he said.

“Some sites put customers into assessor mode with advertisements showing someone comparing many options to prime customers into thinking ‘this is an important decision’ and that they need to take time and engage with their intended purchase.’;

Dr Mathmann said there was an ongoing marketing debate about assortment size.

“On one side, there is the threat of ‘choice overload’ which discourages purchase and on the other is the ‘more options the better’ argument,” he said.

“While some studies have found large assortments increase purchase likelihood and consumption, others indicate large retail assortments tend to decrease purchases and reduce decision satisfaction.

“However, when we look at the rising growth of sites such as Netflix and that aggregate a huge number of choices, the notion of a universally negative comparison experience is questionable.

“My research aimed to explain this variance and investigate the type of consumer who responds to a large range of choice positively.”

Dr Mathmann’s research found assessors actually liked the experience of comparing.

“They are engaged in their purchase and feel good which leads them to be willing to pay more for it. For them online window-shopping is an enjoyable activity and is valued especially if there are many options,” he said.



MUMBRELLA, one of Australia’s two leading marketing industry publishers and event organisers, has been acquired by Diversified Communications Australia, representing the global Diversified Communications group.

Diversified Communications general manager, David Longman said Mumbrella was an impressive Australian organisation with a growing events and publishing record of success in Asia. Mr Longman said the Mumbrella business was aligned with Diversified Communications’ expansion and diversification plans as well as its growing global portfolio of events, digital products and publications. 

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INTERNET marketing specialists SponsoredLinX, one of Australia’s largest privately-owned digital agencies, is reaping the rewards of what founder and CEO Ben Bradshaw describes as “unprecedented demand” for digital marketing assistance.

He said SponsoredLinX had seen a strong year’s trading with revenue growth tracking at 30 percent. To further fuel expansion, SponsoredLinX Group had increased its workforce by 50 percent to more than 150 staff in the past six months.

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THE AUSTRALIAN Broadcasting Commission (ABC) will invest $50 million in new content and create 80 new jobs in rural and regional Australia under a new strategy and transformation program.

The program announced by ABC managing director, Michelle Guthrie – named Investing in Audiences – involves a number of interlocking initiatives “designed to strengthen the corporation and enhance its ability to deliver on its Act and Charter and serve the community”. 

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THE AUSTRALIAN Broadcasting Commission (ABC) has announced the December 4 launch of ABC Comedy,  a new multi-platform brand that spans a TV channel - replacing ABC2 - ABC iview, ABC listen and key social media platforms.

A statement from the ABC said the new brand would be "devoted to providing Australian audiences with an unrivalled comedy offering". ABC Comedy is a mix of scripted and non-scripted, long and short form TV shows, and podcasts.

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THE Walkley Foundation has launched a new national award for exceptional industrial relations reporting by the Australian media.

The Helen O’Flynn and Alan Knight Award for Best Industrial Reporting was created in partnership with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Unions NSW, AiGroup,  the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the University of Technology Sydney, and with the support of an anonymous donor. 

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