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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 426 ..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

That means that the commercial television stations that are beaming their advertisements out of Wollongong are in fact doing their advertisers a gross disservice insofar as 50 per cent of the area they are broadcasting to is not prepared to take up the advertisements. I think this is a poor result. I think it is a criticism of the television stations. In the event that the motion goes through along the lines that Ms Gallagher has suggested, I would hope that that aspect of the so-called services of commercial television stations, both to the advertisers and to their viewers, could be taken account of.

Amendment agreed to.

MS GALLAGHER (4.49): Just to wrap up this debate, I would like to thank other members for their contributions on this issue. I note Mr Cornwell's comments, and I remind him that it would be appropriate for him to put forward his views at a public hearing which will be held on 25 February.

The single issue here is that the ACT region has suffered as a result of the withdrawal of news services by two of the region's broadcasters. The granting of broadcasting licences is a privilege, not a right, and community concern should be a factor in the issuing and maintenance of licences. The fact that this is currently not the case demonstrates a lack of regulation or a regulatory framework.

Clearly, self-regulation has failed in this instance to meet the needs of our local community. I am glad that the ACT government will communicate these concerns to the ABA inquiry and make a case for regional content. Local news and other forms of local content should be mandatory requirements in the issuing of licences. The law on this issue must be broadened to give the ABA powers to demand that licensees maintain regional content.

Federal money and ACT budget priorities have been given in the past to sustain this industry in a time of transition. It is time for members of that industry to address their obligations to a loyal base of viewers in the ACT. The transition to digital television is not cause enough for the removal of news bulletins and a failure to replace them with any form of local content. Nor is it a sufficient reason to justify the job losses suffered by employees in the industry.

I look forward to seeing the government's submission and I am confident it will reflect the concerns that I have raised today in this motion.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Implementation of committee recommendations in annual reports

Debate (on motion by Mr Humphries ) adjourned to a later hour.

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