Jun 25, 2012

Politicians should focus on post-diversity challenges in media

Attempts to regulate media diversity miss the point that there may be little diversity left to regulate.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The Greens have leapt into the media fray with a bill for a public-interest test to regulate newspaper and broadcasting media transactions. The Broadcasting Services Amendment (Public Interest Test) Bill 2012 would establish a new part in the current media regulatory framework requiring ACMA to assess mergers of nationally significant media companies against a set of public interest criteria involving diversity, editorial independence, free expression and fair and accurate news reporting.

Even if passed, the bill won’t have any effect on the current high-profile media issues, Gina Rinehart’s stake in Fairfax and News Ltd’s bid for Consolidated Media Holdings, assuming the Greens intend subscription broadcasting to be roped into the test along with the current media subject to ownership laws — major newspapers, FTA TV and radio. Those are likely to be resolved before any change in the media laws could take effect, which on the most optimistic scenario won’t be until 2013.

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6 thoughts on “Politicians should focus on post-diversity challenges in media

  1. susan winstanley

    Absolutely right Bernard.

    The one thing that can be done, and should be done, urgently, is to legislatively firewall the ABC from future attacks on its independence, from either side of politics.

    Then retire Mark Scott and boost funding for the ABC News Division – thanks for building the online presence Mark, but its mostly full of uneducated children running around with microphones, or opinionated fools reading out News Ltd headlines.

    We deserve better.

  2. Trelevn

    We need an ABC charter that establishes that in the game of political football, it’s the ABC who do the kicking.

  3. michael crook

    The ABC charter is being breached daily by the advertising of those most commercial of organisations the privately run “news” media. Why, they even quote from “The Australian” as if it was a legitimate even handed reporter of events of the day. How strange.

    Stop advertising these commercial ventures and the ABC might get back a bit of its credibility. It has none now.

  4. Mark from Melbourne

    The stupid thing about this debate is that we have never had independent media in this country. The horse has long bolted.

    Fairfax was only “independent” because that was their market differentiator and the problem is that it isn’t working for them any more. Mind you the level of advertorial, re-hash of PR etc has been on the increase for years.

    These are businesses meant to make a profit for its owners amongst other things.

    Even the ABC is politicised because of their rather stupid interpretation of what constitutes “balanced” reporting (which was introduced because the conservatives kept giving them a belting). I agree it needs to be protected and strengthened as an organisation.

    Is it important to have a good cross spectrum of public scrutiny and comment? Absolutely, but that is generally achieved by diversity. That’s the real problem with our media and that’s ultimately down to the fact that with 22m people we are a small market. We have the same problem with banks, food retailers etc – Australia is the home of the oligarchy.

  5. Gocomsys

    Read the article. Liked the “troll free” comments. Next: Check out The Conversation, Independent Australia, Global Mail and others. Who needs Limited Murdoch or GinaFax! Let’s hope the ABC get their act together. The sooner the better before vested interests are causing any more damage. The general public desperately requires access to facts not fiction.

  6. Steve777

    There seems to be an iron law about doing business in Australia that every major market left to itself will eventually become a duopoly or a monopoly. The big four banks would have become two ages ago had they been allowed.

    For this reason among many others, it is absolutely crucial that we firewall the ABC against future attacks. Legislate a strong charter of independence. Take measures to prevent future stacking of the board – I’m not sure how we could do this, but the lesson of the Howard era is that we must. We should also legislate to guarantee its funding for the next 5 years because I am sure many in the Coalition are itching to downsize and / or sell off the ABC.

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