Feb 11, 2010

Free TV handouts: we don’t know the half of it

We've been seriously underestimating just how much money the free-to-air TV networks will be getting from taxpayers under the Government's outrageous licence fee rebates, reveal Glenn Dyer and Bernard Keane.

The competition regulator should step in and force Free TV Australia, the television broadcasting cartel lobbyist, to change its name. There’s now no such thing.

A Crikey analysis has shown that the promised licence fee rebates of 33% this year and 50% next year to the television networks will be much greater than previously thought. Rather than $250 million, the likely cost to taxpayers will be closer to half a billion dollars from the Rudd Government.

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24 thoughts on “Free TV handouts: we don’t know the half of it

  1. Gavin Wood

    It would be interesting to know what the ABC or SBS could do with that extra funding instead…

  2. Niki Scevak

    I completely agree with the egregious payout and it’s simply sickening to see.

    However, I think you missed the last link in the chain. The money is very nearly certainly not allowed to be paid out via a dividend for Seven and Nine (by virtue of their large debt and presumably convenants protecting any such behaviour).

    So the money goes from the tax payer to the broadcasters to the banks who originally lent them the money.

    It’s more of the same though: “The Seven Media Group has obtained financing of about $2.5 billion from Morgan Stanley, Mizuho, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.”


    “To fund the payment to PBL, PBL Media has underwritten financing from UBS for new debt of $3.75 billion non-recourse to PBL and CVC.”

    The debt is traded so the current owners are likely not the same.

  3. David

    Mr Rudd is getting to the stage where he is now treating those who put him where he is, with complete contempt. He was loud in his condemnation of the previous Govts pork barrelling, prior to the 2007 election and rightly so. Now he blatently and without shame, proceeds down a similar path, blatently. There are many many good and wise members of the Govt and they deserve better from this egotistical empty Prime Minister. He has either lost any sense of reality if he thinks those who were loyal to him in ’07 will retain that loyalty if he insists on treading the path of self adulation, aloofness, hollow words and a disregard for the loyalty shown to him. He can bank on one thing. There are many many Liberal supporters who deserted Howard but will return to the fold given the contempt Rudd is showing. Time may pass this phoney by, faster than he thinks.
    I will remain loyal to Labor this year,but that will be in spite of Mr Rudd.

  4. wildgoose

    OK, i’m sickend! What can we do as individuals to stop it? serious question?

  5. Richard Wilson

    I think Rudd is racking up as much public debt as he can but who is he borrowing from…lets see who is providing the money ? My guess is JP Morgan Goldman Sachs HSBC and Citigroup in what I call “dodgy funny money” US dollars while they still have value. He thumbs his nose at the people because as one of the elites he feels he is above us all and we have no right to question what is going on in secret behind closed doors. Barnably Joyce is right – he just wasn’t supposed to tell everybody.

  6. twobob

    Barnably Joyce is a jellyfish – he has no spine
    If he was worth anything at all he would be squealing about this very handout.
    But is he? No.
    Any ideas why not?
    Pretty bloody obvious really. The only real opposition to this pork barrelling crap are the Greens.
    The Greens who are continually under and miss reported by the MSM. Now why would that be?
    Oh year they don’t pork barrel the bastards that’s why!

  7. wildgoose

    I’m still sickened! All our money to millionaires for providing such crappy television that is so bad, I pay for Austar. Who the hell watches free to air anymore that wouldn’t swap it for a well funded ABC & SBS?????

  8. BH

    Well I disagree with the lot of you. When a huge number of people cannot afford to instal ‘payTv’ they need the FTAs to be very very viable. It is the only entertainment many people have.

    If this money results in better programs and the ability to fight Murdoch for sporting rights then I’m all for it.

    Murdoch said a few months ago that he thought Govts. should support newspapers to keep them viable. He wasn’t talking peanuts either. So sour grapes from PayTV which I pay for and which doesn’t deliver. No FTA available to many houses in my area.

  9. Scott

    Even if your assumption of massive increases in revenue in 2010 and 2011 are true (unlikely as real revenue increases in the TV networks have been non-existent since 2001), the rebates you indicate will still mean the Government is receiving $480 million in 2010 and $300 million in 2011 (representing the 66% and 50% of the licence fee) from the TV networks. Not bad when you consider that in 2008/2009, the licence fee received was a relatively paltry $286 million (without any rebate). When you look at the net difference over the next two years it’s still $280 million in the black.
    The ABC doesn’t need any more money. Surely $700 million a year is enough.

  10. wildgoose

    I think hospitals, roads, education are where the money should be spent. Why is entertainment TV a necessity for our tax dollars??? As BH says, whether you pay for it or its free, it will always be rubbish. The exception being ABC & SBS who I still think do a great job for the money the are underfunded with.

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