Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (11:55): I thank those members who contributed to the debate on the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Regional Commercial Radio) Bill 2012. This is a bill that seeks to ease the unnecessarily onerous provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 which were introduced as part of the previous government’s 2006 media ownership changes. Once again, it is this government fixing up problems created by the former government. While local content is important for regional areas, the current legislative provisions place unreasonably onerous and inflexible requirements on regional radio which, if left in place, will affect the viability of some local services. These requirements and the compliance burden have been strongly criticised by the industry since their introduction. The government’s changes do not abolish the requirements for regional commercial radio broadcasts to provide local content. The changes are intended to better reflect the realities of radio broadcasters’ operational practices and reduce regulatory burdens, which provide little actual benefits to listeners in regional communities.
The bill will provide flexibility and consistency while maintaining local content by taking into account the limited on-air staff available in some regional areas and the difficulty regional licensees face in obtaining short-term replacements when staff are on leave. The bill broadens the trigger event definition to include a change in control of a regional commercial radio broadcasting licence to reflect consistency with media control principles outlined in schedule 1 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. Additionally, the bill provides those regional commercial radio operators affected by a trigger event with flexibility in the local presence and reporting requirements after a 24-month period. I commend the bill to the House and thank those members who participated in this debate this morning.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.