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The Bulletin | MARCH 2014 | 3
Turnbull: ABC free to
compete on digital
Minister Malcolm Turnbull says
he will not intervene to prevent
the ABC and SBS competing
with free digital content against
Senior executives, particular-
ly at News Corp Australia, have
taken a philosophical stance
against the supply of free digi-
tal content by the public broad-
casters, arguing that the govern-
ment should not provide online
news and other services in com-
petition to private enterprise.
The previous Labor govern-
ment legislated to change the
ABC and SBS charters to explic-
itly require the production of
online content. The ABC insists
on allowing free access.
Mr Turnbull said the ABC
had always been in competition
for viewers with the commer-
cial media. "The same criticism
could be, and has been made, by
commercial media since its foun-
dation," he told The Bulletin.
"I don't believe the ABC's digi-
tal online presence has any im-
pact on the ability of the news-
papers, for example, to charge
for content -- after all there is a
plethora of free online news and
Mr Turnbull signalled that --
with the exception of the reach
laws that determine the level of
ownership concentration in par-
ticular Australian markets -- he
saw no pressing need for chang-
es to current media law.
Asked about reach law chang-
es, Mr Turnbull said: "We are
undertaking a thorough review
of all regulation affecting the
telecom sector with a view to re-
moving unnecessary and costly
He also sees no need for changes
to legislation governing the num-
ber of free-to-air television licences
due to convergence of platforms.
One of the last acts of the pre-
vious government was to leg-
islate to prevent the establish-
ment of a fourth commercial
television network in Australia.
Mr Turnbull said no review was
planned of that decision.
Despite attempts by former
Communications Minister Ste-
phen Conroy to regulate the
media, which would have had
the effect of restricting freedom
of speech, Mr Turnbull does
not believe there is any need to
enshrine freedom of speech, or
freedom of political expression
in the legislative framework.
Freedom of speech is implied
in the Australian Constitution,
but Mr Turnbull believes one
cannot legislate for free speech.
"Freedom of speech and freedom
of political expression are long-
standing tenets of the Australian
legal/political system and will
remain so as long as the Coali-
tion is in power," he said.
In terms of the Coalition's Na-
tional Broadband Network mod-
el, Mr Turnbull said the switch
to fibre-to-the-node technologies
considerably increased the speed
of the rollout. "The multi tech-
nology mix is modelled to deliver
superfast broadband four years
sooner than under Labor's mod-
el," he said. "It will also bring
increased commercial benefits
to the NBN Co due to the bring-
ing forward of revenues, result-
ing in $18 billion of revenue by
2021 compared to $10 billion of
revenue under the Labor model."
He said there was a pricing
structure in place, however this
would be reviewed by the cost-
benefit analysis into the NBN
and in future corporate plans.
had always been in competition
telecom sector with a view to re
the last acts of
The Newspaper Works joined PANPA-winning pho-
tographer Sylvia Liber (inset) on the road for a day
as she went on assignment for The Illawarra Mer-
Eliza Goetze joined Sylvia on her first job of
the day at Bulli Beach, near Wollongong south of
Sydney, as she photographed Sharn McNeill, a
local former nurse, training for an ironman event
with her friend Craig Gruber, despite being diag-
nosed with debilitating motor neurone disease.
Ms Liber has built her 22-year career on find-
ing powerful images in everything from daily surf
checks to the extremes of the human condition.
It is capturing these moments, and connecting
with her subjects, that inspire her every day. Read
Eliza's profile of Sylvia on Pages 20-21.
On the job with Sylvia
down in free
AUSTRALIA has fallen two places in
the latest World Press Freedom Index,
with the lack of legislative protection
for journalists' confidential sources
highlighted as the primary issue with
The index, which ranks 180 nations,
is published by Repor ters Without Bor-
ders and uses a metric that considers
six key criteria: pluralism of opinion,
media independence, media environ-
ment and self-censorship, legislative
framework, institutional transparency
and news infrastructure.
Australia is currently ranked 28th af-
ter ranking 26th in 2013, although this
number is still significantly higher than
the US who fell 13 places to 46th and
Britain who fell three places to 33rd.
The report noted that "no fewer
than seven requests for disclosure of
sources were submitted to the courts
in 2013," and that Australian journal-
ists' are at risk of being in contempt
of cour t should they refuse to honour
those requests under current laws.
New Zealand, while still ranking high-
est among countries in the Asia Pacific,
dropped from eighth to ninth place in
the index, after having risen five places
in last year's report.
Tim Murphy, Chair of the New Zea-
land Media Freedom Committee, said
that the drop in ranking was relatively
insignificant and that it was encourag-
ing to see the country remain in the top
tier of nations with respect to media
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