Source: Australian Ministers 1
The Albanese Government is another step closer to delivering on its election commitment to support access to local and free TV services in the streaming era, with the release of exposure draft regulations for its prominence framework today.
The release of draft regulations follows the introduction of the Communications Legislation Amendment (Prominence and Anti-siphoning) Bill 2023 in November which aims to ensure Australians can easily find and access free television broadcasting services and broadcasting video-on-demand services on connected television devices.
If passed, the prominence framework will introduce ‘must carry’ obligations on device manufacturers to reduce the risk of free-to-air broadcasting services being crowded out by the larger, international services operating in the Australian market.
Following a transition period, manufacturers of connected television devices will have to meet minimum prominence requirements for new devices supplied to the Australian market.
The draft regulations prescribe the minimum prominence requirements, which include specifying that connected television devices must:
- provide access to regulated television services;
- pre- or auto-install free-to-air video on demand services; and
- present separate tiles, tabs or links to provide easy access to each free-to-air video-on-demand television service.
The requirements will not apply retrospectively to existing television sets, and will not affect hardware or other ancillary equipment, such as remote controls.
The proposed framework and draft regulations will also not constrain device manufacturers from promoting or recommending other content or services, or affect search results or device customisation by consumers.
The Bill was referred to Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 26 March 2024. The release of the draft regulations is intended to assist and inform the inquiry into the Bill.
The use of regulations will allow minimum prominence requirements to be adjusted over time in response to changes in technology and consumer preferences, which is particularly important given the rapid rate of change in the TV market in terms of technologies and consumer preferences.
The draft regulations are available at: https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/media-communications-arts/television/prominence-connected-tv-devices
Quotes attributable to Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:
“Local, free-to-air television informs and entertains all Australians, contributing to our shared sense of identity and cultural life.
“That’s why our prominence reforms help ensure free local services remain easily accessible to Australian audiences on their connected television devices, even as technology changes.
“The draft regulations set out how the Government would achieve that in practice, and have been released to provide greater detail on the proposed prominence requirements.
“The Albanese Government’s new prominence framework delivers on our election commitment to modernise media laws and level the playing field, recognising the important role that free-to-air broadcasters continue to play for Australians – matter where they live or what they earn.”