Advanced Television

Report: Commercial TV boost for Australian economy

September 5, 2022

Australian commercial TV contributes A$2.5 billion (€1.7bn) to the nation’s GDP and Australians value access to free TV services, according to a report commissioned by Free TV, the industry body for Australia’s commercial free-to-air broadcasters, conducted by Deloitte Access Economics.

The report, Everybody Gets It: Revaluing the Economic and Social Benefits of Commercial TV in Australia (Second Edition), found that the commercial TV industry increased its contribution to national GDP by A$200 million, or 5 per cent, since 2019. The report also revealed that 16,200 full-time employees work in the industry and supply chain.

The report reveals that 99 per cent of Australians can access free TV services compared to at least 5.6 million Australians who can’t stream video on demand (VoD) because of broadband quality, availability, or insufficient data caps.

Everybody Gets It reveals the critical role Free TV broadcasters play in the economy, our screen ecosystem, our local communities and our democracy,” noted Bridget Fair, CEO, Free TV. “While audience viewing habits are evolving, more than one in five Australians still don’t have access to the broadband necessary to deliver streaming services. But commercial television is available to every Australian, and it’s free.”

“Australian content, trusted local news and the live action of our favourite sporting codes are fundamental parts of our identity, our society, and community connection,” asserted Greg Hywood, Chairman, Free TV.

Research has revealed that 74 per cent of Australians believe that reliable free-to-air television services are crucial for all Australians, especially for those without strong internet. In addition, more than three-quarters of Australians believe that Australians should have free access to iconic sporting events and that this shouldn’t be limited to only those that can afford it.

“The anti-siphoning scheme that ensures that iconic events of national significance stay on our TV screens expires next year and it only applies to Foxtel,” advised Hywood. “The scheme would not stop subscription streaming services from acquiring exclusive rights to events like the NRL, AFL, Olympics or even the Melbourne Cup. Australians need the list extended and expanded to stop live and free sport disappearing exclusively behind paywalls,” he stated.

According to Free TV, this is particularly important as the cost of streaming SVoD (Subscription Video on Demand) was cited as a concern for 58 per cent of Australians. Deloitte analysis reveals the true impact on cost-of-living pressures with the average annual cost of entertainment subscriptions growing to A$660 in 2021.

The research also found that TV news is still the most frequently used news source and 75 per cent of Australians believe that television news plays an important role as an information source during times of crisis. A recent JWS Research report ranked commercial television as the most useful source of information in the 2022 election campaign.

More than 65 per cent of Australians believe that commercial TV is a trusted source of local news, current affairs, and information essential to Australian society and democracy.

The report also revealed the extent to which the free-to-air commercial network invests in the Australian community. In 2021, a total of A$195 million of value was provided by networks within the commercial television industry in community and charitable support, primarily made up of in-kind donations and community service announcements through broadcast airtime provided by networks. This sits alongside initiatives such as the Australia Unites telethon which raised A$25 million for the Red Cross and flood victims.

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