Submissions have closed for the Senate inquiry into Helen Coonan’s media laws.

This will be a detailed, scientific study – sort of like licking your finger and holding it up to the wind. The inquiry’s been given virtually no time – but just enough for John Howard to know which way the breeze is blowing.

But you’ve got to ask why governments still bother with media regulation.

According to Coonan and the PM, this is a bold move to use new technology to boost diversity. If that’s the case, it’s already failed.

It’s impossible to see how consumers’ interests are being promoted. The main point of the package seems to be the protection of the status quo.

Technology is advancing at such a speed – dragging the newspapers, television and radio we’ve been used to with it – that government regulation is becoming almost pointless.

Indeed, regulation only seems to have one point. It’s a tool of political patronage – a way of doling out power, rationing access and protecting vested interests.

In the era of broadband and convergence, media regulation exists to protect governments, not consumers.

Peter Fray

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