The Prime Minister has contradicted
Communication Minister Helen Coonan over media reform. Yesterday on Sky TV he denied setting an end-of-year deadline for media laws: “Well I didn’t know
that we’d actually set that as timeframe”, he said. “I thought all we said was
that we’d find out people’s views and then have another look at it.”

He’s offered a rebuff for his Minister,
too. The PM repeated his line that media changes are “not something on which I
intend to spend an enormous amount of time or political capital”.

That’s shorthand for “not upsetting vested
interests and media moguls”.

In the end, the Government “will make a
sensible decision based on both principle and commonsense,” the PM says. That’s
shorthand for leaving well alone what should be left alone.

The Government’s new cross-media ownership
laws are supposedly designed to take account of new technology. They are the responsibility of a minister
who seems to think her public servants can devise an algorithm for identifying
pornography online – a minister who simply doesn’t get it, in other words.

Stand by for an announcement of a timetable
on digital convergence with a soupcon of multichanneling on the side – but that
will be it.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey