Whatever market theories Helen Coonan might
have for her dabble in media regulations, they don’t quite apply in the real
world when it comes to a diversity of “voices”. (Keep taking the medication and
maybe they’ll go away.)

One insignificant example: Peter Meakin was
not officially told why John Alexander ordered me flicked from Channel Nine three
years ago – I’m just glad I wasn’t boned – but Meakin believes it was because I
had been consistently critical of News Corporation. Another former senior PBL
executive, far more knowledgeable in the ways of Park Street, has
told me the same thing.

There’s no way of proving that – no doubt
Alexander could trot out a list of perceived failings on my part – but it is
curious that News Ltd types knew I was for the jump before anyone did at
Channel Nine. If, as alleged by the recent affidavit, Alexander is capable of
wanting a flagship current affairs program to do a hatchet job on Kerry Stokes
for corporate political reasons, he’d have no trouble flicking a hack for corporate political reasons.

Being critically sceptical of News
Corporation’s performance might be a reason for promotion after the fall-out
between News and PBL over the past couple of weeks, but three years ago the PBL
and News voices certainly liked to sing in tune. Alexander’s cultivation of his
relationship with John Hartigan was a time of sweetness and harmony between the empires.

The point is the claim of media diversity
with so few voices is a myth. You can’t trust the likes of PBL and News to
allow dissent or not to collude on policy. Allow the likes of Packer/Alexander to control both PBL’s media
interests and Fairfax while Murdoch buys a television station and Australia’s
biggest cities could have a very thin choir in areas of mutual interest.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey