Australia’s commercial broadcasters have slammed a Government decision to allow for the doubling of SBS advertising from 5 to 10 minutes maximum per hour.
In a statement released tonight Network Ten CEO Hamish McLennan stated “The government is clearly creating a fourth free-to-air network by stealth.”
“All media companies, including Ten Network, have made painful and difficult cuts over a number of years in response to major structural change and a soft advertising market.
“But this government is clearly unwilling to tackle the difficult decisions when it comes to the ABC and SBS, instead making commercial businesses and their shareholders foot the bill for the public broadcasters’ ongoing inefficiencies. “
Seven’s CEO Tim Worner also released a statement tonight voicing his opposition to the change.
“We can’t be asking commercial broadcasters to foot the bill. If they had asked us all to make a donation to SBS of $5m a year, our response would have been totally predictable. SBS needs to live within its means.
Commercial television delivers the news, sport, entertainment and drama programming that Australians love to watch. And we deliver it free of charge. And we do that while continuing to produce more Australian programming than anyone else and paying a super tax in the form of 4.5% gross revenue licence fees.”
Australia’s Commercial broadcasters currently pay a Licence Fee of 4.5 per cent of gross earnings; this was reduced from 9 per cent in 2013. Commercial Broadcasters are currently limited to a maximum of 15 minutes of advertising between 6pm and midnight in any given hour. Recently Seven and Nine have lobbied the Government to have this limit extended to 20 minutes per hour. Ten has opposed the change.
A Nine Network spokesperson was tonight supporting the comments from it's rivals at Seven and Nine telling this website ”we are not happy about it”
Responding to the criticism, SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid today said “I am confident and committed that should this legislation pass Parliament, SBS would only implement additional advertising in programs and timeslots where the advertising return could genuinely aid our ability to invest in more Australian content,”
However Ten’s Hamish McLennan disagreed stating, “This is a bad decision being dumped on the industry – and SBS’s viewers – without any transparency or consultation. The government needs to be held accountable and needs to explain itself to viewers, the shareholders who own the free-to-air television networks, Australian television production companies and the tens of thousands of people who will be hurt by this decision.