Crikey: How do proposed cross
media ownership changes benefit consumers? Do you believe such changes will be
positive for Australian democracy? If so, why, if not, why not?

Lindsay: The proposed laws deliver certainty for the industry in the
years ahead and deliver certainty for consumers as the new media rolls out.
Crikey: Do you accept the
argument that the rise of new media makes cross media regulation unnecessary?

No. While the government believes in removing regulation
where possible, there are national interests to be protected.

Crikey: If there’s room for
niche services on multichannelling, why isn’t there room for a fourth
commercial TV network?

More choice is not necessarily in the consumer’s interests. Australia
is a small media market so more channels would deliver more “cr-p”.
The ability to deliver quality programming would be further eroded. So what
does the consumer want? Cr-p or Quality?

Crikey:There are 12 media
players in Sydney and 11 Melbourne. The “diversity test” requires at least five
major players in metropolitan areas. How will consumers be better off with
potentially half the level of media diversity?

Lindsay: Why would 12 players be reduced to five? The market could well
drive the status quo.

Crikey: The “diversity test”
will require four players in regional areas. In Cairns, for example, there are seven operators.
Townsville, Rockhampton and Toowoomba have six. Will people in regional Australia be better off with less media diversity?

See answer above. By the way, we have 12 radio stations in
Townsville with most of them only having less than 3% of the listening audience. I could therefore
make the point that there is little
public interest in the existing diversity.

Crikey: Do you support the reduction
of the number of voices in regional and metropolitan markets? If not will you
push for changes? Would you vote against the legislation? Will there be a reduction in the number of

Lindsay: If there is it may be a good thing. I always keep an open mind
as does the government and if a good point is made, the legislation will be
changed. I am not a Barnaby and therefore, as a team player, I will work with
the government so the question of voting against the government will never

Tomorrow: Wilson Tuckey.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey