The Turnbull Government has announced plans to modernise Australia’s existing media law framework with a significant shake up of media laws.

The proposed legislative reform package released last week includes changes to regulations governing the control and ownership of Australia’s traditional media outlets.  The package also proposes strengthening local content obligations for regional commercial television licensees.  Changes to the anti-siphoning list do not form part of the package, drawing criticism from those who would prefer to see the current reform package encompass a broader scope.

Speaking in relation to the reforms Senator Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications, highlighted that the existing media law framework was crafted in an ‘analogue era’, before the internet, when the media landscape was dominated by print newspapers and commercial radio and TV services.  The changes are designed to ensure existing media laws appropriately mirror the ways in which Australians now access the media in a digital world.

The Government introduced the legislation package on 2 March 2016 and, subject to the passage of amending legislation, the new measures could commence this year.  However, the entire reform package has initially been referred to a Senate enquiry for more detailed consideration.