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Crikey Says

Dec 1, 2010

There's a reason we regulate for media diversity

History students call it the "Great Man" theory -- the tendency to simplify historical events down to the whims of the powerful.

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History students call it the “Great Man” theory — the tendency to simplify historical events down to the whims of the powerful. And the “Great Man” theory is pretty much all we’ve been getting from the media in its coverage of the James Packer-Lachlan Murdoch buy-in to the Ten Network (you can make that “Great Men and Women” theory for the coverage of Gina Rinehart’s acquisition). What is Packer’s agenda for Ten? Where does he want to take the network (in spite of his own rather poor track record in the business, which most business writers have been remiss in mentioning). What will be the relationship between Packer, Murdoch and the Gordon family?

What hasn’t been discussed at all is the impact on media diversity in Australia. Not merely is Lachlan Murdoch now in a position of control in relation to a television network and Packer and Murdoch now able to control both free-to-air and subscription television content, the deal has shone a light on the tendency of moguls to now operate not merely across more than one media, but across more than one outlet within the same media, despite ownership restrictions.

Australians are plainly concerned about growing media concentration. A recent Essential Research poll found that a quarter of voters didn’t believe James Packer should be permitted to buy into Ten while retaining his Foxtel shareholding, and 50% of voters didn’t believe News Ltd should be permitted to own the majority of Australian newspapers — a view held right across party lines. In the same poll commercial TV news services were trusted far less by voters than the ABC.

Crikey believes that the Packer-Murdoch deal raises serious concerns about how we regulate media ownership in Australia. In the face of a rapidly evolving media environment, it is time to revisit our media ownership laws. Today we begin the first of a series of articles on how and why we regulate for media diversity, and how we can do better.

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10 comments

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10 thoughts on “There’s a reason we regulate for media diversity

  1. michael crook

    I prefer to call it the rich, powerful asshole theory.

  2. Pete from Sydney

    so 75% of people think it’s okay for Packer to buy in? and 50% have no issue with Murdoch?

    A big call on the ABC as well guys

  3. zut alors

    In bleaker moments I ponder why not meekly roll over and allow Packer and Murdoch to acquire EVERYTHING media related. But I doubt even that would satiate their greed.

  4. John Bennetts

    Did I read correctly? James Packer and James Murdoch?

    Where’s Lachlan?

    Has he changed his name to avoid past opprobrium re One Tell?

  5. Norman Hanscombe

    Sydney Pete, Packer’s subbies have come up with a more comprehensive summary of the issues:

    “A recent Essential Research poll found that while 50% of voters didn’t object to News Ltd being permitted to own the majority of Australian newspapers, and even fewer respondents trusted the commercial TV news services they trusted the ABC, the Packer Dynasty remains our nation’s most revered media family with an impressive three quarters of voters having no objection to James Packer being permitted to buy into Ten while retaining his Foxtel shareholding.”

  6. Pete from Sydney

    sounds a little highbrow for Packer’s subs, but nonetheless, did 75% think it wasn’t a big deal or what?

  7. Norman Hanscombe

    Fair go Pete. Next thing you’ll be suggesting media statements should be clear, correct and relevant. Just accept we live in a postmodern world where only your opponents are expected to toe such archaic lines.

  8. MLF

    When I read “Crikey believes that the Packer-Murdoch deal raises serious concerns about how we regulate media ownership in Australia,” I copied the line and was about to come on here and say geez, Crikey, I love you but you’re not a shining beacon of light on this one – doesn’t everybody have an issue with media ownership and regulation? You know, and then I was going to do a bit on the slackness of the government, the foils of monopolies etc etc.

    And then I read @Pete and @Norman’s comments and I’m completely flabbergasted and oh so tired of this ridiculous b-s way of the world. I mean, for f’s sake, this shouldn’t even be a story, it should never have been allowed to happen – but if 75% of people think ITS OK, then screw it. I give up on the lot of ya’ll.

  9. kennethrobinson2

    I thought the bastards already owned the lot, silly me.
    Their next move will be the ABC and SBS, Big Julie will let it happen with the agreement of the Mad Monk.

  10. Sophie Black

    Ed: You did read correctly John, we wrote James instead of Lachlan, have amended now. Roll on Christmas holidays…

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