News Corporation has just dramatically increased its political-influence footprint in Australia — but it’s a story that hasn’t made it much past the business pages. It should.
In recent months, News Corp has added strategic ownership stakes in the Ten Network and APN newspaper/radio organisation. The company — through its director, shareholder, management or “associate” proxies — now owns or has the key influence over:
- The vast majority of metro newspapers;
- The vast majority of suburban newspapers;
- The majority of regional daily newspapers;
- Two key radio networks;
- One of three free-to-air TV networks; and
- Australia’s only pay-TV network.
Apart from the smaller online players, which have widely dispersed ownership, that leaves a diminished Fairfax, Kerry Stokes (who has close relationship with News), the Nine network and a few smaller radio networks as the only other real players across the entire Australian media of influence.
How could any politician or government resist this kind of influence? There has never been anything like this in any mature democracy in history.
News Corp may be a predominantly “old media” company, but there’s nothing old about its influence on Australian politics, policy and government.