Misha Ketchell writes:

Helen Coonan’s proposed media law
reforms have failed to win broad public support, with a thin majority
of Australians (52%) opposing moves to drop laws restricting
cross-media ownership, a Morgan phone poll has found.

A further 64% oppose the plan to relax
foreign ownership restrictions and about a third of
Australians (36%) believe the changes to the media laws will have a negative
impact on the integrity of reporting.

A similar proportion (35%) believe the Government’s proposed changes will reduce
diversity, according to the Australia-wide phone poll of 676 people aged 14 and over last week.

Public opposition to the Government reforms was weaker than that among journalists who responded to a Roy Morgan Research survey of Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) members last week.

Another interesting difference between the two groups was that a small
majority of Australians (55%) want to maintain a limit of
three commercial free-to-air television stations in capital cities but
70%
of MEAA journalists disagree with maintaining the limit.

Concerns over the influence of media moguls was strong in both groups.
57% of Australians (compared to 63% of journalists) believe the
Australian media
companies/owners have “too much influence” in deciding how Australians
vote and
61% (journalists: 71%) say media companies/owners have “too much
influence” in determining the political agenda.

According to pollster Gary Morgan, the
public is clearly divided on the Federal Government’s reform package with 52%
opposing the Government’s plan to abolish cross-media restrictions and 55% agreeing
with the limit of three commercial FTA TV stations in capital cities.

“What
should concern everyone is the large number of both journalists and the
public who say the Australian media has too much influence in
determining the political agenda,” he said.

“It is the Federal
Government’s responsibility to ensure that in Australia there is no
reduction in diversity across all forms of media – print; TV; radio;
and the internet.”

Read the full results here.

Peter Fray

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