(Australian Associated Press)
Seven West boss Tim Worner is urging the federal government to quickly act on revamping TV licence fees.
The federal Communications Department reportedly has recommended the government cut the fees, a move that broadcasters support as they battle competition from digital rivals including Netflix.
Mr Worner says while Seven has been encouraged by positive indications from the government about possible changes to the fees, action is needed fast.
“We believe the government understands that local broadcasters are seriously disadvantaged relative to over the top global competitors and the fees paid by Australian broadcasters are well in excess of those paid in any comparable jurisdiction,” he said on Wednesday.
“However, I cannot stress enough that action on this issue is now well overdue and is urgently required.”
In January, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield dubbed the TV industry’s $153 million annual fees a “super profits tax” and hinted they could change.
He told Sky News that things had changed a lot since the fees were introduced in the 1950s, when the only media available were print, TV and radio.
“We’ve indicated to both radio and TV that we are prepared to examine licence fees in the context of the coming budget and that’s what we are doing,” Senator Fifield said.
Mr Worner’s calls for the government to act quickly came as Seven West reported a swing back to profit.
The broadcaster made a $135.2 million first half net profit, but warned that it expects the TV advertising market to remain flat.
The result for the half year to December 26 compared to a $993.6 million loss a year earlier which included writedowns worth $1.15 billion.
First half revenues fell 4.1 per cent to $895.7 million.
TV revenues, which make up nearly three quarters of the media giant’s total, fell 2.1 per cent to $662.9 million.