Malcolm Turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull

Local news protected in media law plans, says Turnbull

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised regional Australians their local news coverage will not be affected, as he seeks to reform media ownership laws.

Mr Turnbull penned an opinion piece in The Australian this morning arguing that any potential changes to the "reach rule" in ownership laws would not affect local television news.

The reach rule, which dictates no single company can own broadcast licences over more than 75% of the country, was discussed during a high-level media roundtable with Mr Turnbull last week.

But as senior Nationals MPs and rural Liberals privately voicing concerns about changes, Mr Turnbull sought to dispel any fears over local news broadcasts.

"Everyone is concerned that regional communities around Australia have access to news, presented by journalists who understand their local area, their people and their issues," he wrote.

"Yet there are commercial incentives for regional broad­casters to provide local content and on occasions to exceed the minimum requirements where they are in place."

Despite the scant resources provided to some regional television news outlets, Mr Turnbull wrote that all political parties had last year agreed local content should be safeguarded.

"The reach rule therefore does not have anything to do with local content, let alone protect it," he wrote.

"The local content rules operate regardless of who owns a regional licence. Lifting the reach rule would have no impact on the local


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