Proposed amended Communications policy

Proposed amended Communications policy

[Please note that proposed additions/substitutions are in bold underline. Proposed deletions are in strikethrough below.]

  1. Massively increase funding to the ABC and SBS, including greater funding for community, multicultural and non-commercial broadcasting as well as ABC bureaus at the local level.

Rationale: Additions to give this clause greater context.

  1. Resist attempts to corporatise and privatise public broadcasters.

Rationale: An addition to incorporate corporatisation, as it is possible for state owned entities to be corporations being run on behalf of the government; likewise it is possible for organisations to be privately owned, but not a corporation (such as a not-for-profit). It needs to be clear, with respect to public broadcasters, that Socialist Alliance opposes both the privatisation and corporatisation of public broadcasters.

  1. Protect the political independence of public broadcasters.

Rationale: Small amendment on the basis of technicality to this clause to specifically mention political independence. Being a public broadcaster, it technically isn’t possible for it to be independent but it can and should report without the interference of political motives.

  1. Restore the ABC2 and SBS2 channels instead of ABC Comedy and SBS Viceland that cater to market demandfor greater variety of news, analysis, informative and political content.

Rationale: Amended to omit the part regarding ABC Comedy and SBS Viceland, as this is addressed in amendments below. This is further amended to give context and reasoning.

  1. Greater funding for community, multicultural and non-commercial broadcasting

Rationale: Clause omitted. This is addressed further down.

  1. Rename ABC Comedy to ABC Entertainment, and repurpose both it and SBS Vicelad to cater for arthouse, cult films and other niche productions - local and international, respectively.,

Rationale: New clause to address the ABC Comedy and SBS Viceland, proposing that these be repurposed (and in the case of ABC Comedy, renamed) to showcase more niche productions rather than serving commercial interests and market demand.

  1. Incorporate publicly funded community television channels under the ABC and SBS banners for Australian produced content and multicultural content, respectively.

Rationale: New clause to flesh out the question of community, multicultural and non-commercial broadcasting. This proposes that the ABC and SBS should have channels under their banners that are dedicated to the broadcasting of community produced content and multicultural content.

  1. Greater regulations of media ownership laws in order to stop the toxic concentration of media ownership in the hands of rich oligarchs and instead encouraging plurality.

Rationale: This clause has been omitted due to the addition of the two clauses below, which fleshes this out and gives more specific demands.

  1. Institute a ‘rule of three’ for media ownership in Australia, ensuring that no one private media company can own more than three newspaper mastheads, radio stations and television stations at a local, state and national level.

Rationale: A “rule of three” for media ownership is a specific demand that can address the concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few rich oligarchs. Specifically, this clause argues that no one media company or individual:

  • Can own no more than three newspaper mastheads - one each at a single local government area, state/territory and nationally, and;
  • Can own no more than three radio stations - one each at a single local government area, state/territory and national level, and;
  • Can own no more than three television stations - one each at a single local government area, state/territory and national level.

While some specific areas may inadvertently have a single commercial media company covering their news at all levels, the diversity of media overall would be a benefit for all. Furthermore, ABC bureaus at the local level as stipulated in clause 1 above will aid in keeping a diverse media landscape, even in these areas.

  1. Establish a free national fortnightly print masthead under the ABC News banner.

Rationale: Specifically relevant for those who don’t have access to television or internet.

  1. Increasing subsidies for regional media organisations and local newspapers.

Rationale: Omitted. The clause below clashes with this clause.

  1. End all public subsidies to commercial media organisations.

Note: No amendment.

  1. Mandate a requirement that media organisations to provide equal advertising time to political parties and candidates during formal election periods.

Rationale: Small amendment to specify a specific demand. The original version of this clause was too broad, hence the addition of “formal election periods”.

All parties and candidates, no matter their ideology, should be given the opportunity to put forward their ideas (or make fools of themselves, whatever it may be) during formal election periods, in an equal field with all other parties and candidates, who are standing for election.

Particularly abhorrent content would be pursued in accordance to clause 15 below.

In response to suggestions that “right wing parties get equal advertising” under this clause, absolutely they should. Not only does the “give them rope” principle apply; under this clause, left-wing parties are given the opportunity to call them out and out forward real solutions for working-class people.

  1. Strengthening content regulations to prevent media from engaging in blatant, racist dog-whistling

Rationale: Clause omitted. This is fleshed out in the clause below.

  1. Resource the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with the power to pursue media organisations that engage in blatant race baiting and other hate speech; including empowering members of the community to make complaints of media misconduct.

Rationale: ACMA is the body for establishing codes of practice to ensure that media and communications works for all Australians. Thus, the scope of ACMA should be extended to include cracking down on race hate, vilification and incitement of hate as well as giving an easy mechanism for people to make complaints of media misconduct, should they feel the need to do so, with proper resourcing for these complaints to be actioned in a timely fashion.

  1. Requiring commercial media to dedicate portions of their content to factual news, current affairs, politics, arts, documentaries and commercial broadcasting

Rationale: Clause omitted as it has been made redundant by the ABC/SBS clauses above.

  1. Provide greater funding for local art, music and entertainment, as well as for better access to cultural activities, to foster the development of rich and diverse local arts scenes.

Rationale: This has been fleshed out to give this clause greater context, as well as to combine this clause with the one below.

  1. Investing to make cultural activities more accessible for everyone.

Rationale: Omitted. This has been incorporated into the clause above.

  1. An end to the commercialisation of major sporting broadcasts such as the Olympics, the World Cup and Australian professional sporting leagues, as well as other major cultural events.

Rationale: A new clause and to also incorporate cultural events.

  1. Ensure that major world and Australian sporting and cultural broadcasts are available and accessible to everyone via the SBS/ABC respectively.

Rationale: A new clause to stipulate that major world and Australian sporting and cultural events be made available for viewing for all via the ABC and SBS (instead of commercial television which clashes with ending the commercialisation of these events).

  1. Strengthening anti-siphoning laws to ensure that sporting broadcasts, including the olympics, the World Cup and Australian professional sports leagues, are accessible to all on free-to-air television.

Rationale: Clause omitted due to the addition of the two clauses above.

  1. Renationalise Telstra and properly resource it in order to provide access to high-quality and inexpensive telecommunications (phone and internet) services to all people; including indigenous, remote and otherwise disadvantaged communities.

Rationale: Reworded the clause relating to the nationalisation of telecommunications companies to specifically demand the renationalisation of Telstra and to properly resource it to provide access to inexpensive and high-quality telecommunications services to all.

Telstra was originally a public entity and currently owns most of the infrastructure.

  1. Deliver world-class fibre-to-the-premisis broadband through a publicly owned NBN scheme, without public-private partnerships.

Note: No change to this clause apart from “delivering” to “deliver” to make it read more like a demand.

  1. Protect and properly resource Australia Post as an efficient, publicly owned postal service.

Rationale: Small addition to broaden the scope of this clause. Not only to ensure AusPost remains in public hands, but to ensure it is properly resourced to provide an efficient service.

  1. Tighten laws around patenting to prevent corporations from hoarding innovations for their own profits.

Rationale: Amended the clause around copyright to ensure clarity. Patenting is used by corporations to hoard innovations and for competitive advantage, not copyright, hence the amendment.

  1. Liberalise copyright laws to apply to work for 30 years after creation in order stimulate the creation of a rich and vibrant public domain.

Rationale: New clause to address copyright specifically. Currently, copyright automatically applies to work for the life of the creator, plus 70 years. As such, reducing the amount of time work is copyrighted for to 30 years after creation strikes a good balance between ownership of an original piece of work and ensuring the creation of a vibrant public domain that others can access and draw ideas from without fear of being stung for copyright violations for copying work that was created several decades ago.

  1. Reform defamation law that currently prevents robust public debate and allows heads of corporations as well as politicians to use the threat of legal action to thwart legitimate criticism.

 

Rationale: Amended for clarification, as it is already very hard for companies to sue for defamation. However, it is currently very easy for heads of companies, public figures and politicians to sue for defamation if those people are named.

  1. Incorporate the X18+ rated classification under the current R18+ classification rating for all multimedia.Stopping the censorship of the pornographic and video games industries through x-rated and denied classifications.

Rationale: The introduction of R18+ ratings for video games has largely eliminated the problems faced in terms of games marketed to adults being refused classification (or censored) for not complying with what at 15 year old teenager should be viewing.

As such, the refused classification rating is reserved for the most abhorrent of content that is too intense for even the R18+ classification, and the R18+ classification allows for some rather detailed and gruesome stuff.

Issues still lie with the detail of the guidelines, however. The “no drug use for incentives or rewards” requirement for the R18+ rating for video games, for example, has caught out a few recent video games that have been refused classification on this basis. Hence, there is scope for the R18+ classification guidelines to be relaxed further.

With that being said, the X18+ rating (which covers non-simulated sexual activity and pornographic content) should be incorporated into the R18+ rating for all multimedia (which naturally wouldn’t apply to video games as no sexual activity if present in a video game can possibly be non-simulated).

In response to the suggestion by some comrades that some content should be censored - it is not the role of a Socialist party to argue for the censorship of multimedia content on moral grounds.

  1. Adopt an Australian Bill of Rights that, in addition to outlining the general rights of all people, explicitly safeguards of a federal bill of digital rights to safeguardand online privacy.

Rationale: Amended to more broadly call for an Australian Bill of Rights that explicitly safeguards digital rights and online privacy, among other things.

  1. Reverse all metadata collection, encryption bypassing and other mass surveillance laws that curtail civil liberties and infringe on the privacy of individuals.

Rationale: No amendment, apart from the addition of “the privacy of individuals” at the end.

END