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Oz media regulator under threat

Report calls for foreign content to be cut

SYDNEY — An Australian government review of the local media landscape has recommended that the industry regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, be scrapped, and replaced by a body with more teeth.

The review, which was charged with assessing the impact of new technology on local media, also called for an industry-led body to oversee journalistic standards across all platforms.

The call for ACMA’s demise is being seen as a shot over the bow that will instead result in ACMA being given more teeth and a clearer remit.

“For the last seven years ACMA has been increasingly dealing on a daily basis with convergence issues,” ACMA topper Chris Chapman said.

He welcomed the final report and said industry debate around the findings were “vital.”

But not everyone was so generous. Channel Ten topper James Warburton said the findings will further burden the over-regulated free-to-air industry, and the new body would have “more power to impose more regulation on what is already the most over-regulated part of the media industry.”

The review also called for local content to be given further protection against the influx of foreign content, proposing a 50% increase in the obligations for drama, documentary and children’s programs.

“Free-to-air broadcasters already invest more than $1.2 billion a year in local productions,” Warburton said. “There is no justification for the proposed increase, particularly at a time when the free-to-air television industry is already under pressure.”

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