TV bids: Australian Government waits for police

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan says the Government will wait for advice from police before deciding the next step in the Australia Network tender process, which was cancelled on Monday.
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Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan says the Government will wait for advice from police before deciding the next step in the Australia Network tender process, which was cancelled on Monday.

Last Updated: Tue, 8 Nov 2011 19:04:00 +1100

The Australian Treasurer, Wayne Swan, says the Government will wait for advice from police before deciding the next step in the Australia Network tender process.

Radio Australia's parent company, the Australian Broacasting Corporation, now holds the contract to operate the international satellite television network but is competing with the Sky News' operator, the Australian News Channel (ANC), to retain it.

Sky News is partly owned by the British broadcaster BSkyB, along with Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment Company in Australia.

Australia's Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, announced the end of a competitive tender process on Monday, saying he was acting on the advice of the Government Solicitor.

He said: "The advice which the Government has received is that due to significant leaks of confidential information to the media, the Australia Network tender process has been compromised to such a degree that a fair and equitable outcome may no longer be able to be achieved."

The Government also referred the matter to police because of the alleged leaks.

The opposition Coalition says the tender process has been bungled and wants the Auditor-General to investigate.

Mr Swan says the Government is leaving it to the police for now.

"Well we've had some advice from the Australian Government Solicitor that because of the leaks we had to take the course of action announced by the Communications Minister last night.

"There will be or is a Federal Police investigation into these matters and it's not appropriate that I provide any further comment over and above that investigation."

ABC extension

The Government has granted a six-month-long extension to the ABC until August 2012 while long term contractual arrangements are resolved.

On Monday, the ABC's Managing Director, Mark Scott, released a statement welcoming the extension.

"The Corporation appreciates the opportunity to discuss with the Government the future role international broadcasting can play across the region, providing insights into modern Australian life for audiences on radio, television and online," he said.

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