Sunday, August 14, 2022

Inquiry Into ‘Competitive Neutrality’ of Australia’s National Broadcasters

The Australian Government has appointed an experienced panel to conduct an Inquiry into the competitive neutrality of the national broadcasters.

The Inquiry will examine whether Australia’s national broadcasters – the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) – are operating in a manner consistent with the principles of competitive neutrality.

Competitive neutrality principles provide that government business activities should not enjoy net competitive advantages simply by virtue of their public sector ownership.

Mr Robert Kerr will chair the panel, bringing his economic and competition policy expertise to the Inquiry. Mr Kerr is a consulting economist and former head of staff at the Commonwealth Productivity Commission. He was also a Commissioner of the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission, where he conducted public inquiries into regulatory issues.

Mr Kerr will be joined by Ms Julie Flynn and Ms Sandra Levy AO, who will provide their wealth of media and broadcasting experience to the Inquiry.

Ms Flynn was the CEO of Free TV Australia from 2001 until 2016. She joined Free TV after 25 years in journalism at the ABC and commercial broadcasters. Ms Flynn is a Walkley Award winner and a former President of the Canberra Press Gallery.

Ms Levy is a director and producer with an extensive background in screen and cultural organisations. She is a former CEO of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School and has held senior roles with major broadcasters and producers, including as Head of Drama and later Director of Television at the ABC. Ms Levy was recently appointed to the board of the NIDA Foundation Trust.

The panel will consult relevant stakeholders during the Inquiry and be supported by a Taskforce in the Department of Communications and the Arts.

Commenting on the review, SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid said, “SBS will participate fully in the Government’s inquiry into the competitive neutrality of the national broadcasters, noting that existing, robust accountability frameworks governing SBS are operating effectively and we continue to operate within our relevant legislative frameworks to deliver on our Charter.

“Undoubtedly, the rapidly increasing penetration of international operators, along with new domestic streaming services is changing our media environment. But it is difficult to contemplate how a broadcaster the size of SBS that has its commercial operations limited by legislation could be a threat to the business activities of its commercial counterparts, which benefited only recently from changes to media laws and a major reduction of their licence fees.”

The Terms of Reference and further information on the Inquiry are available at: www.communications.gov.au/competitive-neutrality-inquiry

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