By Glenn Dyer

Crikey’s report last week that News Ltd is about to launch a commuter
paper in Sydney raises an interesting question: will Murdoch’s plan get the green light
from Canberra? News Corp is now officially a foreign company and
one would suspect it would have to be considered 100% foreign owned.
And as a foreign company News Limited should not be permitted to launch
a new newspaper – yet that’s just what they did two weeks ago.

On May 5 News
Limited’s Brisbane arm launched City North News, despite
the fact that under the existing rules a foreign company
is only allowed a 50% interest in a metropolitan suburban paper. If the Federal Government it should close down City North News, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath…

Did News seek approval from FIRB before launching its new newspaper?
Who knows, but even this Government would find it hard to justify
letting Rupert break the rules while it blocks Javier Molls attempts to
compete with his Advertiser newspaper in Adelaide. This might
explain why Communications Minister Senator Coonan is suddenly so eager
to push ahead with media ownership changes: under the existing rules
News Corp’s hands could be tied if a competitor enters the market. If
Fairfax had the guts to revisit its own plans for a free commuter paper
for the Sydney market, News Corp might not be permitted to respond.

Cute, eh? Instead, it seems News Corp is the one with forging ahead –
possibly in defiance of existing rules. Or are they just used to
getting what they want from Canberra?