Feb 28, 2007

Broadcasting Legislation Amendment Bill 2007

BROADCASTING LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2007

Second Reading

28 February 2007

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10.29 am)—I rise to speak in support of the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment Bill 2007. Labor supports this bill as a small but sensible regulatory reform to increase the volume of Indigenous programming on community television. The bill makes a technical amendment to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to provide retransmissions of television narrowcasts with the same regulatory exemptions as retransmissions of television broadcasts.

At present, parties transmitting unaltered content from television broadcasters are exempt from the regulatory obligations imposed under the Broadcasting Services Act. This bill amends section 212 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to extend the existing broadcasters’ exemption to the unaltered retransmission of content from television narrowcasters.

This exemption allows parties to retransmit content provided by National Indigenous TV Ltd, an Indigenous television content aggregator, on Imparja television’s channel 31 satellite narrowcast service. The bill also makes amendments to the Copyright Act 1968 to exempt self-help providers from the obligations of the act and to apply the statutory licence copyright collection scheme to retransmissions of National Indigenous TV Ltd content.

In summary, the cumulative effect of the amendments contained in this bill is to place someone who merely transmits National Indigenous TV Ltd content in the identical position to someone retransmitting a national, commercial or community service. These minor regulatory exemptions are easily justified by the resulting benefits associated with increased Indigenous programming on Australian television.

The Australian Labor Party supports these objectives. Certainly, I well recall attending the Garma Festival near Nhulunbuy some five years ago when I was parliamentary secretary to the shadow minister for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander affairs. The impact that it had there is certainly something which Indigenous communities are very appreciative of, and it is important in terms of the maintenance of Indigenous culture.

National Indigenous Television Ltd is currently aiming to put the first of its programming to air in May 2007. As such, the amendments contained in this bill need to be in operation before this time to ensure that simple retransmissions of this content do not fall foul of either the Broadcasting Services Act or the Copyright Act. It is for this reason that Labor has supported this bill’s speedy passage through the House. I commend the bill to the House.