Report under fire

Oz commish pushes unpopular TV measures

SYDNEY — After months of industry submissions, the Productivity Commission has released its long-awaited draft report, including controversial recommendations backing the introduction of a fourth television network and calls for the axing of restrictive cross-media and foreign-ownership legislation.

In a major challenge to the federal government’s current back-burner stance on media reform, the report advocates immediate change including the repeal of legislation introduced last year to shield existing TV broadcasters from new competitors entering the Oz market until at least 2007.

The draft report also recommends an expanded definition of datacasting under the legislation and argues against the Federal Government’s current plan to legislate the introduction of High Definition TV broadcasting as the industry standard.

Opposition to draft

The report has predictably come under attack from the existing TV barons who oppose the lifting of the ban on new network players. They are also concerned that datacasters could become defacto broadcasters if the definition of datacasting is expanded to include the use of audio and video.

The Screen Producers Assn. of Australia has also condemned the report’s suggestion that Australian content quotas should be scaled down.

The government is yet to respond to the report and has ignored Productivity Commission recommendations in the past.