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Hywood takes another swipe at the ABC

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Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood has again criticised the ABC’s spending of taxpayer money on commercial opportunities, saying that the view is more than “commercial media whingeing”.

Mr Hywood entered a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the future of journalism that expanded on a number of questions asked during his May 17 appearance.

He said that the ABC “has been aggressively moving into the commercial media space competing for audience “eyes””, citing the increasing amount of money the government-funded broadcaster pays Google for search engine optimisation. He stated that while the intent of the ABC may not be to purposefully affect commercial news media, it is affecting the quality of journalism it is able to produce.

The ABC’s investment into television via international streaming service Netflix was also under scrutiny.  In March, the public broadcaster teamed with the streaming site to re-boot the popular Chinese children’s program “Monkey”. Under the agreement, “The Legend of Monkey” will air 10 half-hour episodes on the ABC, TVNZ and Netflix.

It was suggested that the broadcaster should have kept money in Australia through Stan, the Fairfax and Channel 9-owned streaming service.

Alternative funding methods for journalism was a key feature of the submission, with the caveat on the discussion stating that any funding should be independent of additional rules and regulations.

Tax write-offs for physical and digital media subscriptions were encouraged, especially if expanded to education and students. However, tax write-offs for media companies would need to be especially considered.

Mr Hywood reaffirmed the belief that online social giants must be taxed appropriately for the use of Australian content. The push also encouraged the government to reassess its current marketing model, suggesting a reinvestment into traditional marketing mediums like newspaper and television.

While Fairfax conceded that it had “no special insights” into how tax issues could be rectified, Mr Hywood said the company would support changes.

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