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Greens Last Hope For Media Law Reforms After Xenophon Withdraws Support

Xenophon says he's reached an impasse with the government.

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Key crossbench senator Nick Xenophon has confirmed to BuzzFeed News he has reached an "impasse" with the Turnbull government over its media law reforms, after it again refused to grant tax concessions to small media businesses.

The suite of media law reform changes proposed by the government includes slashing licence fees and scrapping the "two out of three rule" which stops an individual or company owning a newspaper, TV station and radio station in the same license area. The proposed shake-up of media laws would also axe "reach rule" which prevents a single TV broadcaster from reaching more than 75 per cent of the population.

The Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) wants small media companies with turnovers between $300,000 and $20 million to be eligible for tax concessions or offsets worth up to $3 million. NXT estimates this would cost around $40 to $50 million a year.

NXT spelled out the compromise to communications minister Mitch Fifield early last week, but was told on Wednesday that the government would not budge.

Xenophon told BuzzFeed News he had reached an "impasse" with the government, and his team would not support any form of media law reforms without tax offsets.

After BuzzFeed News reported this stalemate, Xenophon held a press conference to say the government had been in touch with a new deal and he would respond in good faith.

"We are trying to work through this as quickly as possible, we have only just heard from the government in the last hour and we will work quickly to deal with this issues," Xenophon said.

"The government has made... an offer... that's all I want to say."

If the three Nick Xenophon Team crossbench senators vote against the reforms, it will leave the Greens as the last bastion of hope.

BuzzFeed News understands negotiations have simmered, but the Greens are still negotiating with the government over its planned tax offsets and a greater investment in local and public broadcasting.

"The Greens remain open to talks with the government on its proposed media reform package, but they should dump the silly dance with One Nation," Greens communications spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told BuzzFeed News.

Last month One Nation gave the government "conditional support" for the reforms, in exchange for a $12 million boost to community radio funding and an inquiry into the ABC's neutrality.

Hanson-Young wrote to the Treasurer last week asking him to rule out "fiddling with the rules" to block the CBS acquisition of Ten, but is still waiting for a reply.

Without support from the Greens the bill will fail in the Senate, despite support from the four One Nation senators and independent senators Cory Bernardi, David Leyonhjelm and Derryn Hinch.

At the time of publishing Fifield's office had not responded to BuzzFeed News' requests for comments.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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