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The Australian Government has announced a package of measures including financial support and relief for the Australian media industry.

The package of measures includes tax relief through a waiver on spectrum tax for commercial television and radio broadcasters, along with a $50 million cash injection into regional journalism.

The measures allso see an immediate suspension in content quotas for 2020, and a harmonisation of regulations in order to support Australian content makers.

Industry body Commercial Radio Australia has welcomed the Government’s relief package for Australian media, but said much more action was needed to address the severity of the impact of COVID-19 on radio broadcasters.

CRA chief executive officer Joan Warner welcomed the Minister’s announcement of a waiver of spectrum taxes for 12 months and the announcement of the new $50 million Public Interest News Gathering program.

“We welcome the move to waive spectrum fees but the measures announced today do not go far enough in addressing the pressures facing the radio industry.

“We are grateful for the one-year waiver of spectrum taxes which amounts to about $1.2 million for radio, spread across the large number of networks and stations.

“However, we are disappointed that commercial radio, as the most hyper local of the mediums, has been largely overlooked in spite of its continued delivery of service to the Australian community during the pandemic, and before that, during the bushfires and the drought.

“Radio is an essential service and it’s vital that we are able to continue to meet local content and emergency broadcasting obligations.

“We have now opened discussions directly with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to discuss urgent action to reduce red tape and create a fairer playing field for Australian radio broadcasters so we can keep meeting our obligations to listeners and the communities we serve.

“We would also like to see not just video content harmonised across local services and global giants but the delivery of Australian music requirements also harmonised across radio and global music streaming services such as Spotify.”

ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand chief content officer and EVP, Beverley McGarvey, said:

“The measures announced by the Communications Minister are a great first step in helping us keep our focus on delivering important news and entertainment to our growing community of Network 10 viewers during these uncertain times.

“It’s important to remember that we are only at the beginning of this global crisis and the impacts to our industry, in both the revenue and production capacity, are likely to be felt well into the future. We need to look at further measures in the short-term that will help us plan ahead so we can continue to deliver free, high-quality content to our audiences.

“The Minister was right to release the local content options paper without delay because it gives us the chance to shape the long-term future of our important industry before the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis make the decisions for us.

“We hope that all stakeholders can work together on outcomes that not only build a flourishing local production sector but allow the commercial free-to-air broadcasters to thrive amongst the growing global competition for Australian audiences.”

ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand, which owns Network 10 also commented, with its chief content officer and EVP, Beverley McGarvey, saying: “The measures announced by the Communications Minister are a great first step in helping us keep our focus on delivering important news and entertainment to our growing community of Network 10 viewers during these uncertain times.

“It’s important to remember that we are only at the beginning of this global crisis and the impacts to our industry, in both the revenue and production capacity, are likely to be felt well into the future. We need to look at further measures in the short-term that will help us plan ahead so we can continue to deliver free, high-quality content to our audiences.

“The Minister was right to release the local content options paper without delay because it gives us the chance to shape the long-term future of our important industry before the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis make the decisions for us.

“We hope that all stakeholders can work together on outcomes that not only build a flourishing local production sector but allow the commercial free-to-air broadcasters to thrive amongst the growing global competition for Australian audiences.”