Australian TV?

Greg Duffy

The provisions of the Australia - United States of America Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) that apply to the cultural and audiovisual sectors of the Australian community are not in the national interest of Australia in their present form and should not be supported by the Australian Parliament. The AUSFTA, as presently drafted, severely diminishes the Australian government's ability to determine cultural policy within the audiovisual sector in the future. The agreement limits Australian content on commercial television, accepts lower levels of local content on subscription television, and allows the US to intervene in the determination of Australian content in all new or emerging media services.

This article submits that rather than accepting the AUSFTA in its present form, Australia should: (1) exclude all cultural industries from this and all future trade agreements (as it did in the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement) by way of a comprehensive Cultural Reservation; (2) negotiate through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) a new international Multilateral Cultural Treaty that acknowledges the legitimate role of domestic cultural policies in ensuring cultural diversity; (3) pursue Multilateral and Regional Trade Treaties that provide fairer access to international trade while preserving domestic cultural policy and diversity.

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