The Australian Government’s Future of Broadcasting Working Group has held its first meeting and agreed to prioritise the issue of the “prominence” of Australian content on smart TVs and other connected devices.
The Working Group – comprised of free-to-air broadcasters, consumer and broadcast technology bodies, transmission infrastructure providers, and smart television manufacturers – was one of the undertakings in the Government’s Media Policy Statement issued on 7 February 2022.
Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said the Working Group was established so that the free-to-air television sector, the government and other stakeholders can work together to address the issues facing the sector, many of which are driven by rapid technology change and the rise of the internet.
“This issue of the ‘prominence’ – or the availability and visibility – of particular channels on smart TVs is an important one because of its potential to guide consumer decisions,” Minister Fletcher said.
“I look forward to receiving the advice of the Future of Broadcasting Working group on ‘prominence’ and other issues.”
Australian industry body Free TV welcomed the statement from the Minister with Free TV CEO, Bridget Fair, saying the meeting was very constructive.
“We thank Minister Fletcher for commencing work on this important initiative prior to the election,” she said. “Free TV Broadcasters particularly welcome the prioritisation of the work on prominence of Australian television services on smart TVs and other connected devices. Ensuring that all Australians have access to their free television services is the most urgent regulatory issue for the television sector.
“Audiences are increasingly dependent on smart TV operating systems for how they find their local television services, and we strongly believe that a regulatory solution will be required.”
Research released by Free TV in February 2022 revealed strong support for commercial television services in the electorate:
• 78% of Australians agree that reliable free-to-air television services are crucial, especially for those without strong internet;
• 76% of Australians agree that free-to-air television ensures Australians have access to iconic sporting events; and
• 72% of Australians agree that free-to-air television allows access to television without straining budgets.
“Minister Fletcher’s statement recognises the need to maximise the availability of free-to-air television services to all Australians and identifies prominence as key to achieving this important public policy outcome. We look forward to participating in the work of the Future of Broadcasting Working Group on this issue.”