Thank goodness for good plain-speaking country folk. Helen Coonan’s media law changes will be introduced in the Senate today – and Nationals MP Paul Neville, who has already helped scuttle previous proposals, went on the attack on the ABC over the concentration of ownership and loss of diversity they threaten:

I think I have almost unanimous support from National Party and rural Liberals on this issue. I don’t think there would be one who would disagree with me, that we need to have a more vibrant local media and more vibrant local programming.

Neville says he will insist on tougher limits on regional markets that would ban a company from owning more than two out of three formats — television, radio or print. Coonan said yesterday the Nationals’ demands were not insurmountable.

But what about the Government MPs in the capital cities? Do they really all think that they will make the ministry one day?

Coonan’s proposals say there must be a minimum of five “voices” in the cities and “four” in the regions. Yet Sydney and Melbourne have more than ten “voices” now. How do potential cuts of more than 50% help consumers? And what sort of dopes Liberal MPs must be if they believe their constituents will wear this loss of choice.

It’s now their turn to speak out – while they still have the media outlets to do it.

They should remember that Coonan proposals could hurt them too.

Peter Fray

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