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Govt quizzed on whether it would welcome paywall on ABC iview

Govt. says it's up to ABC if it wanted to introduce fees for iview and it doesn't have a view on the idea.

The federal government does not have a view on whether ABC should add a paywall to ABC iview, and says such decisions are up to ABC management.

Last night during the Budget Supplementary Estimates Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young raised the question with Jane Hume, LNP minister representing communications minister Paul Fletcher.

Senator Hanson-Young noted Qld. Senator James McGrath had called for privatisation moves including selling Triple J.

“He’s also called for a paywall to be put on ABC iview. He’s given numerous speeches in the Senate. Sadly, I’m aware of these because I’ve been in the chamber at the time of some of them,” said Hanson-Young.

She continued, “Do you think there should be a paywall on ABC iview… (should) the Australian public have to pay a subscription to access ABC iview?”

“If the ABC decided that was the best thing that they should do for their business model, that’s up to the ABC,” Senator Hume replied. “The government doesn’t have a view.”

She continued, “It’s not in the Charter, it’s not in the Act, I assume, having not read the full Act last couple of days. If ABC decided that was the best thing for their business model, the government would not undermine its independence and integrity in making that decision.

“But there is no intention for that to happen. You are simply asking a hypothetical question.”

It’s not the first time fees for iview have been floated. In 2014 the Lewis Report recommended such with then Director of Television Richard Finlayson advising, “ABC has started a process looking at making the ABC Archive accessible to everybody in download form.”

It did not proceed.

So far there are no public indications it plans to charge for iview, but it is pushing forward with a mandatory login to give it further data on its users.

An ABC spokesperson denied the broadcaster has any plans to introduce a paywall.

7 Responses

  1. I’d happily pay for iView if they had expiry dates on many things longer than a few weeks, and if they upped the resolution to 1080p.

    Same for SBS On Demand, though in that case I’d want to see all ads removed along with a resolution bump (at least SBS has nice long expiry times on stuff, too!)

  2. OMG. The day we pay for iView and they sell Triple J will be the saddest day for Australians who value and support a public broadcaster.

    Fingers crossed these two things never happen.

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