The concept of Freedom of the Press is one that strictly relates to the state and requires a complete abolition of governmental media regulation and censorship. It is, however, widely unknown how such an unregulated media in Australia would achieve the exact opposite. There was a large outcry in the media recently as the Labor government imposed a new media reform to restrict ownership of the media. Senator Stephen Conroy was heavily criticised for his failed attempt at media reform. The bill of course can be considered to be heavily flawed, as Margaret Simons of Melbourne University states “If they were passed in their current form, the balance would be struck in the wrong place, with too much discretion given to a government-appointed statutory officer”.
This was further debated on ABC Insiders.
It however seems difficult for the Australian public to support such a reform when News Limited paper, The Daily Telegraph, portrays the senator as a dictator.
It seems strangely coincidental that Murdoch, the owner of News Limited and the Daily Telegraph would want to halt the media reform that would essentially prevent the monopolisation of Australia’s media to a handful of businesses (or just one individual). Furthermore when 2.3m readers are subjected to a very persuasive front page comparing Senator Conroy to a ‘despot’, it is obvious how difficult attempts at media reform are. It would also shock many to know that their capital city papers such as the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Illawarra Mercury, The Australian financial Review, The Daily Telegraph, Courier Mail, The Australian and the Herald Sun are all owned by either John Fairfax Holdings or Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited.
And that is just the Newspapers.
So why does media ownership matter? The more appropriate question is why is a Free Press important? Because democracy depends on an informed and balanced public. And unfortunately neither an extreme government regulation or massive media monopoly is going to achieve this.
Conroy – http://truthinmediaresourcecentre.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/dailytele.jpg