Thursday, July 2, 2009

Which way has the Commission jumped?

The Productivity Commission has now delivered its final report to the government, and apparently it will be released to the public the week beginning July 13.

It will be utterly fascinating to see which way the Commission has chosen to go.

Here's the way I see it:

- The draft report's 'protection for the first 12 months' is dead in the water. It proved to be utterly friendless. The commission will have ditched it.

- However, because the commission, unwisely in my view, chose to develop a messy, interventionist, halfway house position, it's highly likely that the 'initial period of protection' notion will have been retained. The time-frame will have been extended to five years. It could be three, but, politically, five ticks more boxes. No one in the industry could credibly object. Even the APA would down weapons (did I say that?...)

- Think about it: the industry could not possibly fight this without completely sacrificing all credibility. And the politicians would not chose to be more catholic than the pope. They would accept the PC's recommendations. That would give the commission a much needed political win.

- Those of us who, unlike St Augustine, consider that now is the time to be pure, will also have to lay down arms and accept the compromise. Maybe we'll be handed a bone: a recommendation that in five years the situation be revisited to assess how the new regime is working. And the PC might say that, if local publishers are at that time still obviously the source of more than 90% of the older backlist (as will surely be the case), then maybe they'd more easily accept full deregulation from day one. They would have realised their fears were misplaced (did I say that?..).

- Of course, as is infrequently the case, I could be wrong. The commission could have chosen the non-Augustinian, economically pure and rational position, and recommended the PIRs be completely abolished, and they might even have confronted the wrong-headedness of the industry submissions head on. The brutally negative responses to the draft report's 12 month recommendation might have shocked them, sent them back to economic taws and emboldened them to be more true to themselves.

Somehow I doubt it.



Anonymous said...

I think they ended up choosing three years because they knew that Kev would try to appease the luvvies by pushing it out to five.

I meant to check it out, but perhaps you know the answer: what, if anything, did Choice say to the inquiry? Quite a dilemma for the self-appointed consumer watchdog, I would have thought, given its supporter base.

Peter Donoughue said...

Well we were both wrong on the three or five years thing!

I don't know what Choice thinks, if anything. They didn't make a submission. Perhaps so as not to embarass commissioner Louise Sylvan, ex Choice, who was subject to a challenge from the APA when appointed to this project.