Threatened
with Macquarie Bank’s intention to take over the media as well as the
airports, roads and every first-born, the question should be asked:
What sort of proprietor will Allan Moss make?

Tim Hughes might
be Macquarie Media Group’s executive chairman, but MacBank CEO Moss
eventually calls the tunes, as befits the $20 million pay packet he’ll
take home this year.

I can’t see Moss & Co wanting any of
their media outlets doing any crusading that might cost the bank any of
its precious money. So, at best, we’re likely to see a further dumbing
down of the journalistic side of anything they buy. The typical
rip’n’read of country radio news will be just fine, thank you. MacMedia
will be another step in the Channel 10-ing of Australian journalism –
basic coverage but nothing to startle any powerful friend or government
that might be the source of more lucrative commercial deals.

That’s
the optimistic outlook. On the darker side, one could speculate about
how far the long finger of the Macquarie board might reach somewhere
down the track to help its deals along. Moss & Co have plenty of
power, especially in Sin City, and have worked hard at the political
games, employing a swag of ex-politicians to keep the Federal and State
wheels oiled and the rich deals and access coming.

With the
hinted-at future of controlling a large slab of Australian media, it’s
not hard to imagine Moss traveling in the Murdoch and Packer shoes to
throw a bit of that weight around. The temptation may simply be too
great to resist. It’s a frightening prospect, especially for MacBank’s
would-be competitors in any transaction involving government.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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