As the government’s
proposed media reforms head towards becoming law, there’s a fascinating
chess game unfolding behind the scenes. It’s all about who’s going to
buy whom when the music stops and everyone starts scrambling for a
chair.

But the existing media players aren’t the only ones
jostling for a slice of the media pie. There’s an elephant in the room
and it’s about to start stomping around. Its name is Telstra.

Crikey
has learned that Telstra is positioning itself for a seat at the media
table by secretly advancing a plan to beef up its online content
businesses through its Yellow Pages directory arm Sensis.

We
understand that Sensis is currently engaged in a process of recruiting
content managers, journalists and IT staff to work on a series of new
websites or online content channels to be launched over the next 6-12
months. The project is very much under wraps and details are thin on
the ground, but what we do know suggests that Telstra is definitely
looking to develop a major online presence, with all the
bells-and-whistles now becoming available on the internet.

Owning
half of Foxtel mightn’t qualify Telstra as a serious major media
player, but CEO Sol Trujillo has big plans to move beyond the
not-so-profitable phone business. As Michael Sainsbury quoted Trujillo
in The Australianlast month, “‘Telstra is becoming a new kind of company – what I like to refer to as a media communications company.’

In
his speech to the National Press Club at the time, Trujillo used the
new description five times, saying he believed Telstra has “an
opportunity to become the best media comms company in the world”.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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