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Crikey Says

May 1, 2012

Decoding the Convergence Review

We're creating a one-stop shop for you: short of reading the report yourself, Crikey's idiot's guide to the Convergence Review is the closest you'll come to forming a bigger picture.

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There are acres of op-eds today about the government’s media Convergence Review, released in its entirety yesterday. Equally, there are reams of different angles: ownership structures; spectrum allocation; regulating (or not, as it turns out) online entities such as Facebook, Google and any solely online publishers for that matter; local content; a public interest test … OK, we’ll stop now.

The report is huge, as are its implications if fully implemented. But trying to get a handle on the recommendations, and why they’ve been made, let alone the current framework and how it compares, is virtually impossible.

So we’re creating a one-stop shop for you: short of reading the report yourself, Crikey‘s idiot’s guide tis the closest you’ll come to forming a bigger picture.

But why should you care? Isn’t this just for media wonks, moguls and self-interested journos? Well, no. As Margaret Simons writes today: “We live in an increasingly media-enabled world, and the recommendations emerging from this seminal review will impact on just about every aspect of our lives over the decades to come.”

In Bernard Keane’s view, this review “proposes an entirely different philosophy of media regulation from the one we’ve had for nearly a century, one in which politicians don’t make the key decisions about media ownership through law, merely identify the broad principles of what they want achieved and leave it to an independent regulator to accomplish”.

Which is why most of these proposals will probably remain precisely that — proposals, recommendations, informed suggestions. There are hard decisions to be made, and they involve picking winners and losers. Safe to say the government’s been well and truly bitten on that front — does it have the energy, not to mention the political will and capital, to take it up to the already-hostile moguls? All signs point to no.

Should it surprise us though, our guide will prove to be a handy reference tool when it comes to reading between the lines …

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