Free-to-air TV networks hit Canberra to lobby for urgent action

Senior TV executives from all five Australian free-to-air network are in Canberra today to urge the government to ensure that free local TV services are easily available and accessible for all Aussies.

The proposed solution is for new legislation that requires that all smart TV manufacturers that want to sell their products in Australia to include access to all TV channels provided by our free local networks, install all local TV apps in the first positions on home screens, and to offer free local TV content first in search results and recommendations.

“Free local TV services remain vital for millions of Australians,” explained Greg Hywood, chair of Free TV.

“Our programming entertains, informs with trusted news and critical emergency updates, and excites with the unmatched theatre of live and free sport.

“But Australians are finding it increasingly hard to find these free local services on modern TV sets. TV manufacturers are seeking to profit by selling exclusive access to the key positions on the home screens and on remote controls. This means global subscription services like Netflix and Amazon are given preference on home screens and remotes, while local TV services are forced to pay to even be available on TVs.

“This might be a great deal for TV manufacturers, but it’s a terrible deal for Australians who just want to get their trusted local news services, watch the Matildas smash the opposition or sit back and enjoy the thousands of hours of great local entertainment and drama programming, all available for free to every Australian.”

Bridget Fair, Free TV CEO cited independent RMIT research that shows 57% of Australians want free local TV services pre-installed on TVs.

“The good news for Australian viewers is that a key election commitment of the Albanese Government was to legislate a new prominence framework that would ensure that free local TV services are easy for Australians to find,” she said.

ABC managing director, David Anderson said: “Australians need to be able to easily access free local content; it is important to all of us as a nation. Manufacturers of Smart TVs need to distribute them locally as FTA access ready. Australians are increasingly missing out.

“That’s why the whole local TV industry has come together in Canberra this week to build support across the Parliament and reinforce how critical it is that action is needed now.”


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