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Xenophon open to deal on media reforms

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The Australian government is continuing negotiations the Nick Xenophon Team over its proposed amendments to the Coalition’s media law reform proposals, with indications the minor party may move towards a compromise.

Parliament is due to resume on Monday for a two-week session, with Federal Communications Minister Senator Mitch Fifield hoping to pass the reform bill as soon as possible.

“We have the support of a number of the crossbenchers and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is on board. I am still talking to Nick Xenophon, who is always a positive kind of guy, and those discussions are continuing,” Senator Fifield told 2GB on Monday.

Senator Xenophon is pushing for tax breaks for medium sized publishers. The breaks would allow publishers with an annual turnover of less than $30 million to receive a 40 per cent reprieve, however the Coalition indicated it would not be accepted.

A spokesperson for Senator Xenophon said the party wanted the 40 per cent but he was willing to compromise with the government.

Senator Fifield took Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to task over comments he made in the wake of the CBS bid for the Ten Network, in which he said there was no need to change media diversity laws.

“Well, CBS has saved Channel Ten so we don’t need to tamper with media diversity laws,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.

Senator Fifield ridiculed the comments, saying the industry was still showing wide support for the package.

“Neither the industry, nor the government, have ever seen this media reform package as about the Ten Network,” he said.

“Yes the Ten Network has been at the forefront of arguing for media reform. But, then again, so has Seven, Nine, WIN, Prime, Southern Cross Austereo, Fairfax and News Corp for that matter. So this package has never been about one network. All the reasons that we need media reform are as valid today as they were yesterday, and the day before.

“We’re back in the Parliament next week and I want to see these media reforms go through as soon as possible. We’ve got some good discussions happening with Nick Xenophon. But, again, the Australian Labor Party, for heaven’s sake, recognise that the internet exists, recognise that this isn’t 1988. Get on board. Do your bit to help support strong Australian media voices,” Senator Fifield said.

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