1 March 2016

Barr lobbies for local media safeguards via inquiry submission

| Charlotte
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local media with Andrew Barr in 2015

The ACT Government is one of only three state or territory governments to have made a submission to the Federal Government’s inquiry into broadcasting, online content and live production to rural and regional areas of Australia.

The inquiry will hold public hearings in Canberra tomorrow and in Sydney on March 7 and 8. Members of the public can attend the first hearing in Committee Room 1R2 at Parliament House between 3.40pm and 4.45pm tomorrow, or listen to it by clicking on the “Watch Parliament” tab at aph.gov.au and then the link to audio webcast of the hearing that will be available tomorrow afternoon.

The ACT submission expresses the Government’s hope that safeguards to protect local community broadcasting will remain in place. You can read it in full here.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the Government’s submission outlined the Government’s view that it was necessary to maintain strong, trusted local voices in community broadcasting.

“Our regional broadcasters help keep the community informed on local issues,” Mr Barr said.

In the submission, he writes:

“… recent commentary by the federal Ministers on the proposed reforms of the media sector raises some concerning prospects, particularly if the process of deregulating the business of media results in a decline in the representation of the voices for rural and regional communities in our national media. The “reach” and “two-out-three” media ownership laws stipulated in current legislation are important safeguards to ensure that the important social and cultural role that media plays in our society is appropriately balanced against business and commercial imperatives. The ACT Government is opposed to watering down these provisions.”

The Chief Minister noted the vital role local media played in keeping the community informed during major crises such as the tragic 2003 bushfires in Canberra.

“A key lesson following the Canberra bushfires was the need for government to forge links with community broadcasters for use in times of emergency.

“666 ABC Canberra for instance, has a Memorandum of Understanding with the ACT Government on the delivery and timing of emergency messaging and the use of the emergency warning system. The Canberra Times, WIN News, Prime 7 and other local outlets have similar agreements in place.”

Mr Barr said the Government continued to work closely with media partners across the city to ensure that when the community needs information in an emergency, they receive it quickly and from trusted local voices.

The Northern Territory and Queensland governments were also among a total of 48 submissions received by the cut-off of February 5.

Pictured above are Chief Minister Andrew Barr and local media covering the arrival of Uber in the ACT late last year. Photo: Charlotte Harper


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