The government has announced the 3 member panel that will conduct an inquiry into the competitive neutrality of ABC and SBS.
They are former ABC director of television Sandra Levy, former Free TV chief executive Julie Flynn and former Productivity Commission head of office Robert Kerr (the latter will also chair the panel).
The inquiry will review whether ABC and SBS are “operating in a manner consistent with the general principles of competitive neutrality”. However, this does not mean they cannot compete with commercial broadcasters.
It will focus on five key areas: “The application of competitive neutrality principles to the business activities of the ABC and SBS, including in operational decision making and risk management; the cost structures of business activities; the regulatory obligations for ABC and SBS compared to those for private-sector operators, insofar as these relate to competitive neutrality principles; the adequacy of current compliance and reporting arrangements; and complaints and accountability mechanisms operated by the broadcasters, insofar as they relate to competitive neutrality principles.”
SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid said in a statement, “SBS will participate fully in the Government’s inquiry into the competitive neutrality of the national broadcasters, noting that existing, robust accountability frameworks governing SBS are operating effectively and we continue to operate within our relevant legislative frameworks to deliver on our Charter.
“Undoubtedly, the rapidly increasing penetration of international operators, along with new domestic streaming services is changing our media environment. But it is difficult to contemplate how a broadcaster the size of SBS that has its commercial operations limited by legislation could be a threat to the business activities of its commercial counterparts, which benefited only recently from changes to media laws and a major reduction of their licence fees.”
The inquiry will report to the government in July.