17 December 2018

Inquiry into the Competitive Neutrality of the National Broadcasters

On 12 December 2018, the Minister of Communications and the Arts publicly released a report by the Expert Panel, in conclusion to the Inquiry into the Competitive Neutrality of the National Broadcasters.  The ABC had commissioned RBB Economics to prepare a report to aid its submission to the inquiry.  RBB was asked to explore the effects of the ABC on competition in the Australian media sector, and considered the potential for the ABC’s activities to lead to a ‘crowding out’ of the audiences available to other media operators, as well as the potential for the ABC’s activities to lead to pro-competitive effects.  The RBB report considered the differentiation between the ABC and commercial media operators, the nature and scope of initiatives undertaken by the ABC to boost its own audiences, the context of competition for online advertising revenues, and cross-country studies of the effects of public sector broadcasters on commercial media operators, and concluded that there was no evidence of crowding out of the audiences of commercial media operators by the ABC; moreover, the ABC’s activities are likely to have resulted in significant benefits to the wider media industry through licensing, partnerships, and investments in a range of initiatives and types of content.  The Expert Panel concluded that “this Inquiry considers the National Broadcasters are not causing significant competitive distortions beyond the public interest”.

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