News inquiry into regions. Was one of the last administrative acts by Stephen Conroy as communications minister a direction to the Australian Communications and Media Authority to investigate whether regional Australia is getting enough coverage of local news and events -- and if the rules governing this coverage should be extended to South Australia and Western Australia? It certainly looks like it, judging by the date of the directive, June 26, when Kevin Rudd rolled Julia Gillard as PM and Conroy spat the dummy and resigned.
ACMA revealed today that Conroy had directed it to conduct an inquiry into whether "material of local significance" is adequately covered by regional TV networks in regional Australia. The inquiry relates to the push from some commercial TV networks and a committee of federal Parliament to remove the 75% reach rule which means the total TV audience for an individual network can't exceed 75% of the population. The recommendation that it be lifted is supported by Nine, WIN and Southern Cross, but not by Seven and Ten. It could force the networks to provide more news and current affairs to the regions -- especially to regional parts of South Australia and WA (WIN has cut back on regional news broadcasts to parts of both states). While Nine is buying the WIN-owned metro stations in Adelaide and Perth, responsibility for the coverage of the regional areas rests with WIN.