Contributed by Ugly
The Turnbull Government is set to abolish broadcasting licence fees and repeal two out of three and 75 percent audience reach media ownership rules as part of a comprehensive package of reforms that the government says will “improve the sustainability of Australia’s free-to-air broadcasting sector”. Australian and children’s content is to be reviewed.
Major media companies have openly welcomed the proposed changes, suggesting that they will protect Australian media from foreign competition and provide a better environment for investment. These claims have not been backed with evidence.
As well as removing barriers to concentration of ownership into fewer hands, turnbull’s changes amount to a handover of up to $200 million of taxpayer’s money.
Newspapers, free to air television stations and radio are finding that their customers customer bases are declining and this is hitting the bottom line. Profit is also squeezed by the increasing share of the advertising dollar going to overseas advertising companies.
Abolishing licence fees, cutting restraints on cross ownership and handing over money will not address the underlying issues.
The falling customer base would be better addressed if there was less reliance on buying syndicated stories and less editorial curtailment of news written by Australian journalists. There is far too much third rate media borrowed from overseas sources, at the expense of cutting local media jobs.
These are realities that are hitting the performances of media companies as a business.
Murdoch’s News Corporation media has down noticeably in recent years and been turned into a mouthpiece of a very narrow world outlook that does not sit well with many readers and listeners.
These are major reasons for the turn to electronic media as the preferred source of news.
At this point, it is still not certain whether the legislation for the changes will get through. They should not, because the average taxpayer should not be expected to line the pockets of multimillionaire media barons.
Given that Australia’s media is one of the most highly monopolised industries in the world, diversity is seriously limited. This means that only the voice of a few is ever really heard and this is an effective limitation on the freedom of speech. Support for measures designed to promote an even greater concentration of media ownership is plainly wrong. We need more diversity. More voices need to be heard.
Turnbull’s changes will not change the challenge from foreign media. The biggest concern operating on Australian soil is News Corporation, which is an American based company and owns the largest slice of Australian media.
The challenge by multinational media companies, soaking up advertising dollars could be easily resolved through bring in some controls.