So much for even minimal media diversity hopes out of Senator Coonan’s “reforms”. Whatever credibility she might have had left has been destroyed by allowing the free-to-air networks to bid for the new mobile digital licences.

Given that the FTA networks already have most of the content worth supplying, they will be able to afford a considerably higher price than their competitors, either forcing Telstra/Fairfax/News Corp to pay too much or leave the table. Nice one, Helen.

Her decision complements Kim Williams’s predictable attack on FTA operators yesterday, well reported and annotated in the AFR’s Chanticleer column. John Durie buys the Foxtel CEO’s own self-interest in its entirety.

“The root of all evil in media policy is the protection afforded to free-to-air television… the last emperors… the incrementalist school of reform… layer upon layer of market distortion…” And so on.

While local investors have been concerned about the softening of television profit markets, Williams claims Australia’s FTA margins are at least double those of the US, UK and New Zealand. “They’re good at what they do, but not that good,” observes Kim.

Never mind that Williams is locked in a game of chicken right now with two of the three networks over the price of AFL games with whatever advantage he can win helping the third network, his 25% owner PBL.

The bottom line remains media policy is a mess with the interests of the incumbents put first courtesy of political favour.

And talking of moguls and mobiles, Rupert Murdoch has a new incarnation – the super-annoying Jamster Crazy Frog. News Corp is paying VeriSign $251 million for a controlling interest in Jamba, the company behind the frog.

News Corp says its joint venture will “create the world’s biggest provider of mobile entertainment”. Says president Peter Chernin:

We’re the most powerful media company on the web with Fox Interactive Media, our aggressive digital content deals have given consumers access to News Corp programming on every conceivable platform and we have already demonstrated innovation in this emerging space with the Mobisode(TM) and Mobizzo.

Wireless technology gives us an enormous opportunity to reach billions of mobile phone users with our content. With this new venture we’re looking forward to inventing new and compelling ways to engage this exciting new audience.

I think I prefer the sound of the frog.

Peter Fray

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