New media ownership laws are expected to unleash a raft of mergers and acquisitions as the government overhauls last century regulation.
Rules which prevent regional television networks and their metropolitan affiliates merging, and another preventing a proprietor from owning a newspaper, radio station and television network in the same market are to be scrapped.
“The media laws that we have were drafted in an analogue world and for an analogue world,” Communications Minister Mitch Fifield told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
There will be new rules to ensure adequate local content for aggregated television licences.
A revamped points system would act as an incentive for broadcasters to produce local content, Senator Fifield said.
“This is good news for the media industry, for consumers and particularly good news for regional consumers,” he said of the changes.
The anti-siphoning regime, which limits a list of important sporting events to free-to-air broadcasters, remains unchanged.
Not even the strongest advocates of change would propose the AFL and NRL competition, the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games or the Australian Open be removed from the list, the minister said.
“If anti-siphoning was to be addressed I think it would need to enjoy broad support in the parliament,” he said.
Mr Fifield said Labor had been upfront in supporting removal of the reach rule and was open to looking at the two-out-of-three rule.
The Senate crossbench also recognised existing media laws were increasingly being rendered redundant.
A reduction in broadcast licence fees, established 60 years ago at a time when TV and radio essentially had a monopoly, would be considered as part of the budget process, the minister said.
“Obviously, the environment in which commercial radio and TV operate now has changed dramatically.”
The government will introduce legislation to parliament on Wednesday, hoping to have it pass before an election.