Free TV Australia

###Free TV Australia

Free TV Australia is an industry body which represents all of Australia’s commercial free-to-air television licencees.

Some of it functions and interest include

Development of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice

Statistics on TV viewing

Lobbying government

Advice on classification of TV commercials


Think TV - its main marketing initiative

Latest report containing insight into commercial TV viewing by Australians

View report (pdf format)

###Conclusions from report:

• 2015 saw the definition of television continue to expand.

• Television is no longer just the screen in everyone’s living rooms; it’s on people’s tablets, phones
and laptops. TV content is available anywhere at anytime.

• Despite the explosion of choice available to viewers, watching Broadcast TV on a TV still accounts
for 87.8% of Australians’ total screen viewing time with Australians watching more than 2.8 Billion
minutes of TV a day.

• The strength of Broadcast TV in the rapidly changing environment is due to its premium, quality
content offering that is curated by the networks, for Australian audiences.

• This quality viewing experience that delivers huge reach across a range of different demographics
and highly engaged audiences is why TV remains the most effective advertising medium for

• The new ways Australians are seeking out this TV content across other screens will only further
enhance its effectiveness in the future.

The take home message seemed to be that while there are a growing number of alternative to view video programming, watching broadcast FTA on a TV screen still dominates.

And that the majority of viewing is done live.

Other key points include:

  • While new technologies and streaming services are providing viewers with a range of entertainment options, the impact on our daily time spent watching TV on a TV is relatively small.

  • New technologies and streaming services are not having a significant impact on the amount of time we spend watching Broadcast TV or when we watch.

  • TV’s reach remains unchallenged. In any given week, metro and regional commercial television reaches more than 8 in 10 Australians.

  • Far from distracting viewers, second screens are seeing viewers more immersed in television programming than ever before. Australian multi-taskers actively engage in activities that directly relate to what they are watching and second screens are also serving as a point of sale between TV viewers and advertisers.

  • Australians love their local content. Every one of the top programs on commercial TV in 2015 was Australian.

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Media Statement from Free TV Australia


The report in today’s Media section of The Australian newspaper that Prime Media has resigned from Free TV Australia is incorrect.

Prime remains an active member of Free TV and continues to support the organisation and its various activities on behalf of the members.

We are always looking at better ways to market television as we have a great story to tell. These matters are still under consideration and we have nothing further to say at present.

As far as I can tell the original “…Prime Media Group resigned from Free TV in a huff” was the offending quote but it has now been changed to “…WIN Corporation will join after the regional operator resigned from Free TV in a huff over media laws”


Free TV will carefully review the spectrum reform proposals outlined by the Minister for Communications, Senator Mitch Fifield today.

It is critical that any spectrum reforms:

 Recognise the ongoing importance to viewers across Australia of high quality, interferencefree commercial television broadcasting services; and  Provides certainty of access for television broadcasters so they can continue to invest and innovate to address the changing viewing habits of Australians.

We welcome Minister Fifield’s comments that under the new reforms, existing broadcasters will have certainty of access to spectrum. However, we need to understand the proposed approach to key issues such as pricing, length of tenure, and renewal rights under the proposed new framework.

Virtually every Australian household has access to commercial free-to-air television, with over 13 million Australians watching commercial free TV every day. More than 70% of people rely exclusively on free-to-air broadcasters for their television services.

The high value of social and cultural uses of spectrum, including by free-to-air broadcasters, must not be overlooked as part of the reform process.

Free TV will provide a detailed response to the proposals as part of the formal submissions process.

###Spectrum reform legislative proposals consultation

The government is seeking input on legislative proposals to improve the management and planning of spectrum in Australia

Consultation Information

In 2015 the Government agreed to implement the recommendations of the Spectrum Review. One of these recommendations was to replace the current legislative arrangements with new legislation that removed prescriptive process and streamlines licensing, for a simpler and more flexible framework.

The Government has released a Legislative Proposals Consultation Paper on its proposed approach to the Radiocommunications Bill 2016.

The new legislation seeks to make Australia’s spectrum framework simpler, more efficient and flexible to use and better support innovative communication technologies and services.

The proposed approach in preparing draft legislation is to:
• simplify regulatory structures for planning, licensing and equipment regulation;
• streamline regulatory processes, particularly for allocating licences;
• clarify the role for Government, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and spectrum users;
• bring broadcasting spectrum into the general spectrum framework while also providing certainty for the broadcasting sector; and
• provide for graduated and proportionate enforcement and compliance tools.

Legislative Proposals Consultation Paper Radiocommunications Bill 2016:

Download PDF

###Free TV - Statement from Free TV on Sports Rights


Commercial-free-to-air broadcasters show 100% of all listed sports they acquire.

Free TV Chairman, Harold Mitchell AC, has rejected claims made today by the Pay TV industry lobby group ASTRA to the Senate Committee inquiring into the Media Reform bills, that Free TV broadcasters acquire broadcasting rights to sports on the anti-siphoning list which they do not show.

Mr Mitchell says, “The claim that commercial free-to-air broadcasters don’t show the listed sports that they acquire is not correct and continues the misleading claims made by ASTRA about the operations of the list.”

“The anti-siphoning list was designed to ensure that all Australians are able to see major sporting events for free and is not based on whether or not they can afford to pay, added Mr Mitchell.

Free TV Australia recently reviewed the listed sports acquired by the commercial free-to-air broadcasters and their subsequent broadcast in the calendar year 2015.

The commercial networks acquired 1,420 hours of ‘anti-siphoning’ sport programming rights covering AFL, NRL, rugby union, cricket, tennis, netball, golf and motor sports.

All or 100% of the rights acquired were broadcast: 1,357 hours (95.6%) being broadcast live and 63 hours (4.4%) as delayed broadcast.

Mr Mitchell said, “These figures highlight the commitment of commercial free-to-air broadcasters to ensuring that there is more sport available live and free to Australians than ever before.

“Sporting programs continue to dominate the ratings. The public interest in maintaining the anti-siphoning list is as strong today as when the list was first established.”

###Ten Network Response To Licence Fee Reduction

Ten Network tonight made the following comments on the Federal Government’s announcement in relation to television licence fees.

Ten Network Chief Executive Officer, Paul Anderson, said: “Despite a lengthy review and extensive consultation with the television industry, the Government’s disappointing decision only reduces this outdated and unfair super profits tax from 4.5 per cent of gross revenue to 3.375 per cent.

“While any reduction is positive, at this level our fee remains wildly out of step with fees paid in any comparable jurisdiction. This single reduction does not recognise the urgency of the challenges that this industry faces and the Government has not indicated a clear path forward to a truly sustainable fee.

“The commercial free-to-air television networks are by far the largest contributor to domestic content production in Australia and underpin the entire production sector. Together, we spend more than $1.5 billion a year on Australian content,” he said.

“As we clearly outlined to the Government, a meaningful reduction in licence fees would have resulted in more work for local content producers and more Australian content on air. Without an urgent path to a sustainable fee, local content remains under threat.”

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Free TV Australia:


The Federal Government’s decision to reduce television broadcasting licence fees from 4.5% of gross revenue to 3.375% recognises that the existing licence fee regime is unsustainable.

However, the size of the cut is disappointing and there is no clear path forward to meaningful reductions.

Free TV Chairman, Harold Mitchell AC has described the reduction as a modest first step.

Mr Mitchell said, “We appreciate that the Budget delivers a small permanent reduction in licence fees however, we are concerned that the Government hasn’t acknowledged that these changes are urgent.

“In the new media environment, the government can’t afford to be complacent. We need to act now to make sure broadcasters can continue to invest in great Australian programming and in transforming our businesses.

“The pace of change is unrelenting and licence fees must be reduced to international best practice levels without delay.”

Commercial free-to-air broadcasters invest over $1.5 billion in Australian content annually and support over 15,000 jobs directly and indirectly across the Australian production sector.

Mr Mitchell added, “We will continue to work with the Government and the Parliament to ensure the public interest in a strong and healthy free-to air broadcasting sector.”

  • Statement from Free TV


Free TV Australia is calling for an end to the outdated election advertising blackout which applies only to commercial broadcasters.

Free TV Chairman, Harold Mitchell AC, says: “The rules are yet another example of the failure of successive governments to keep pace with changes in technology and consumer behaviour”. “The so-called electronic media blackout has become a joke”.

“With reports that up to 40% of people are now pre-poll voting, the blackout is more meaningless than ever,” Mr Mitchell added.

The blackout is a provision of the Broadcasting Services Act which was passed by the Parliament in 1992 prior to the introduction of pay TV and widespread internet access in Australia.

“We all know that from midnight tonight the political parties will simply transfer their advertising from television to other digital media platforms that are not regulated, such as digital news media sites and social media. For example, online news sites will be plastered with wall to wall political advertising, including video ads,” Mr Mitchell said.

Mr Mitchell added: “We are calling on the new Parliament to get rid of this outdated provision which only serves to put commercial broadcasters at a disadvantage to all other digital media”.

“It is hard to see what public interest is served by maintaining the blackout. Australians should be able to access information about elections on all digital media platforms”.

The Freemans are back in new TV campaign for Freeview

Following the success of the Keeping up with the Freemans TV campaign, Freeview last night launched the second phase of the national campaign with two new TVCs.

The first 30- and 15-second spots continue to bring FreeviewPlus to life through the typical Aussie family, the Freemans and their neighbours the Joneses.

The focus for the light-hearted campaign is the simplicity of setting up access to FreeviewPlus on Smart TVs and set-top boxes.

“The development of TV technology has made it easy to set up FreeviewPlus and this campaign demonstrates just how quick and seamless it is,” said Freeview CEO Liz Ross.

As with the initial campaign, Freeview collaborated with Jungle, led by director Al Morrow, who lends his comedic touch to the humorous spots.

“We were really happy with the great response to the Keeping up with the Freemans campaign and are certainly pleased to bring the family back in these new executions.

“With an exciting year ahead, we look forward to seeing more of the Freemans as they explore all that Freeview has to offer,” said Ross.

The Keeping up with the Freemans campaign launched in November 2015 and saw five spots rolled out over the end of 2015 and the first half of 2016.

This post is about TV and radio broadcasting, but since we don’t have a joint topic for this, I am posting it here.

###Updated privacy guidelines for broadcasters

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has updated its privacy guidelines for broadcasters.

‘The ACMA developed the guidelines to assist broadcasters’ understanding and awareness of their privacy obligations under the various broadcasting codes of practice,’ said acting ACMA Chairman, Richard Bean. ‘First issued in 2005, the guidelines were last revised in 2011.’

The updated guidelines:
• reflect amendments to codes of practice since 2011
• include new case studies of key ACMA privacy investigation decisions over the past five years
• update references to personal information and clarify theACMA’s approach to consent, material in the public domain and children’s privacy.

The ACMA values engagement with broadcasters and the development of the guidelines was greatly assisted by consultation with them and other interested parties.

The updated guidelines are available on the ACMA website.

The document is pretty technical but it includes some case studies that may be of interest (not surprisingly most relate to “commercial television current affairs program”) e.g.,

Breach—invasion of privacy with no public interest reason for broadcasting the material (commercial television current affairs program)

No breach—use of material obtained from a social networking website (commercial television news program)

Breach—broadcasting the words of an identifiable person without consent (commercial radio program)

Breach—intrusion upon a person’s seclusion (commercial television current affairs program)

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Free TV has reiterated its call for an end to outdated advertising blackout periods and rejects the plan for a similar blackout in the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016.

Free TV Chairman Harold Mitchell AC said: “As we saw in the Federal Election, an advertising blackout period has no relevance and is ineffectual in the modern media landscape.

“Introducing another blackout period for the plebiscite that singles out commercial broadcasters is no longer appropriate in a converged media environment. It is one thing to have these ridiculous limitations in a piece of legislation that is 25 years old, but totally ridiculous to have it in a new piece of legislation. The Bill seems ignore the existence of the internet and continues to entrench the antiquated regulation of commercial television.”

The blackout is a provision of the Broadcasting Services Act that was passed by the Parliament in 1992 prior to the introduction of pay TV and widespread internet access in Australia.

“The plebiscite blackout period will simply replicate what occurred during the election where both sides of the debate will simply transfer their advertising from television to digital media platforms and social media,” Mr Mitchell said.

“We are calling on Parliament once again to get rid of this outdated provision which only serves to put commercial broadcasters at a disadvantage to all other digital media.”

There appears to be very little possibility of the plebiscite bill getting through Parliament, so Mitchell shouldn’t worry too much.

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Free TV today called for the abolition of licence fees to ensure the future sustainability of the industry. The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Television and Radio Licence Fees) Bill 2016
implements the reduction of television broadcasting licence fees previously announced by the Government in the May Budget, from 4.5% of gross revenue to 3.375%. At the time, the Government said it would consider further reductions in licence fees later in 2016 as part of a broader package of reforms including the pricing of broadcasting spectrum.

Free TV Chairman Harold Mitchell AC said: “A permanent reduction in licence fees is welcomed by our industry, however further reductions to fees are now urgent if our industry is to remain sustainable.

“In the unrelenting new media environment, we need to ensure that TV broadcasters can continue to invest in great Australian programming and transform their businesses to meet advances in technology and changing consumer viewing habits.

“Licence fees for Australian free-to-air broadcasters must be abolished to ensure that Australia is in line with international best practice.”

Commercial free-to-air broadcasters invest more than $1.5 billion in Australian content annually and support more than 15,000 jobs across the Australian production sector.

“We will continue to work with the Government and Parliament to stress the urgency of licence fee cuts to ensure we can continue to deliver a strong and healthy free-to-air broadcasting service to all Australians,” Mr Mitchell said.

The television and radio industry will want to hope that any abolition of broadcast licence fees isn’t replaced by the imposition of another tax. What does the government mean by the “pricing of broadcasting spectrum”? Will broadcasters have to pay for the spectrum they currently get free?

Free TV has appointed Brett Savill as its new CEO, replacing the outgoing Julie Flynn. Savill most recently worked as a business consultant after spending eight years at BAI Communications, formerly Broadcast Australia, where he led government relations, and was director of strategy and corporate development. He will start work next Monday (October 10).

They don’t get it free at present. That’s what the licence fees are that they want removed.

What they did get free was the additional spectrum that allowed them to broadcast in both analogue and digital but essentially they still have to pay for what they have… even if it is at a much reduced rate now.

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##World-first Freeview FV mobile app launches in November

Freeview today announced that its world-first mobile app, delivering FTA TV channels with just
one click, will launch in November. The new live streaming service is branded Freeview FV and will
deliver TV into viewers’ hands, extending viewing out of the home.

Offering a new TV experience with more than 15 free-to-air channels delivered live from Freeview
members, the free Freeview FV mobile app also features catch-up content from all the free-to-air
networks – on the go, in a single app.

Freeview CEO Liz Ross said: “For the first time globally, an FTA industry has united to create and
deliver a powerful consumer experience. Freeview FV will deliver fantastic choice and convenience
in one place, it is simple and-easy to-use, and it will meet the needs of audiences wherever they
may be. From live streaming news and current affairs during the morning commute to catching-up on a
favourite TV program on the way home, Freeview FV will completely revolutionise access to the
free-to-air TV offering in Australia.”

Freeview FV features will include:
o Live-streaming from all the free-to-air networks
o Access to all catch-up TV
o Browse and search
o A free-to-air TV guide
o Recommendations

Australians’ TV viewing habits have changed dramatically and the launch of Freeview FV in November
is an exciting step forward for Australian FTA TV as the industry continues to evolve and retain
its position as a global leader in innovation.

Freeview FV will be available to all Australians through their mobile devices and will be measured
and reported through OzTAM VPM.

The Freeview FV mobile app brand joins Freeview’s existing hybrid TV service, FreeviewPlus.

Free TV Appoints Brett Savill as CEO

FreeTV Australia today announced the appointment of Mr Brett Savill as Chief Executive Officer.Mr Savill comes to the role with extensive commercial, regulatory and industry experience, having most recently held roles as Head of Government Relations, Director of Strategy and Corporate Development, and Chief Financial Officer for BAI Communications (formerly Broadcast Australia).

Harold Mitchell AC, Chairman of Free TV said, “We are delighted that Brett will be joining FreeTV as CEO. He brings a depth of experience in the media and technology industries.

“This appointment will strengthen our efforts as we continue to advocate for regulatory relief from the world’s most onerous television licence fees and for fair and certain access to spectrum so we can continue to deliver the free services that the public values so highly. Brett’s track record of commercial, technology, and policy experience will be a valuable addition to our industry on these issues,” Mr Mitchell said.

Mr Savill said, “This is an exciting time to join the free-to-air television industry. I am inspired by the special place that free-to-air television continues to have in Australians’ daily lives and the transformation that is underway - with the increasing investment in Australian content, the multi-channel experience and the innovations in programming. I look forward to working with the industry and I am energised by what the future holds.”

Brett will commence with Free TV on 10th October 2016.

About Brett Savill
Brett Savill has had a long career in media and technology. In addition to his time at BAI, Mr Savill was a partner at PwC in the United Kingdom in the Technology, Media and Telecom Practice, advising media and telecommunications companies on commercial and regulatory matters, and he has held various industry consulting roles. Mr Savill has a MBA from the Warwick Business School, Diplomas in Marketing and Banking, and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Kent.

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