Tim Longhurst's Blog

Entries Tagged as 'Media Mayhem'

Australia’s rules to prevent idea monopolies – cross media ownership laws

July 22nd, 2005 · 1 Comment

aph.gif“With our newspapers we have indeed supported Bush’s foreign policy. And we remain committed that way.”
Rupert Murdoch, October 2004
All 175 of his newspapers supported the Iraq invasion.

The media may not tell us what to think, but media organizations do influence what we think about. They do this by adjudicating what prominence various issues receive and how the issues are addressed. This ‘agenda setting’ power is one of the reasons Australia has for many years had cross media ownership laws. If all media organisations have their biases, the thinking goes, then we’d better ensure a wide variety of biases. It would be a threat to a healthy democracy if one company controlled the majority of what people read, see and hear.

Australia’s cross media ownership laws boil down to this: for each market (for example, Sydney) a media company must choose whether they want to own a TV station, a newspaper or a radio station. They can have their pick from one of the three, but that’s it.

In Sydney, Kerry Packer’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL) owns the Nine Network, so it can’t currently own any Sydney newspapers or radio stations. Similarly, Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited owns Sydney’s Daily Telegraph Newspaper; it is therefore restricted from owning a Sydney radio or television station.

It’s worth noting that cross-media ownership laws are not the strongest laws around. For one, they do not attempt to regulate magazine ownership (both Murdoch and Packer have large magazine stables), and significantly, the laws have not been updated since 1992, which means they do not address media that has developed in Australia since that date, including subscription television (pay TV) and the Internet. So although News Limited can’t own a Sydney television station, it can (and does) own a stake in Australia’s largest pay TV company, Foxtel, as well as several pay TV channels, including Fox News. PBL also has a stake in Foxtel and a significant interest in one of Australia’s most accessed online portals, NineMSN.

PBL already controls a large amount of what Australians read, see and hear. It is possible to spend an entire day with much of the information you access coming from the Packer-controlled organisation. Watching the Today show, checking Hotmail, reading the Bulletin, buying concert tickets through Ticketek and watching Sixty Minutes all involve receiving information through the PBL network. Because of cross-media ownership restrictions, the radio and newspapers you access offer Australians an oasis from the PBL filter.

Since coming to government in 1996, Australia’s conservative coalition have attempted to water-down cross media ownership laws, without success: they couldn’t convince the senate of the merit of its proposed changes. In late 2004 the government took control of the senate and is now indicating the changes to media ownership laws it has advocated will be achieved – possibly before the end of 2005.

For more information:

Media Ownership Regulation in Australia – Australian Paliamentary Library (non-partisan)

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Category: Media Mayhem

Whistleblower award at the Walkley’s?

May 30th, 2005 · 1 Comment

walkley_1.jpgMiriam Lyons has launched her “one woman campaign” for a whistleblower award to be included in Australia’s media awards, the Walkleys.

“For every lie revealed, every cover-up uncovered, someone [has] risked everything to tell us what we need to know, and then disappeared quietly out of view, to spend time with their families amidst the ruins of their career…”

Journalists have a field day whenever an insider has the guts to talk to the media, so the annual media awards seem like the perfect forum.

Miriam figures the board are likely to “give the idea a fair hearing”, the concept just needs a few advocates. You can be one of those advocates by calling the Walkley’s office on (02) 9333 0945 or by writing a note to the editor of the Walkley Magazine.

Read the original call to action at The Mobias Strip
Visit the website for the Walkley Awards

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Category: Media Mayhem

Washington Post’s editorial independence a “scandal”

May 19th, 2005 · No Comments

foxnewsicon.jpgA Fox News “journalist” has attacked the Washington Post, labelling a recent editorial decision by the Post a ‘scandal’.

Fox News reporter Steven Milloy has lashed out at the Post for failing to blur the lines between advertising and editorial. He sums up how he thinks news works in this excerpt from a recent story on FoxNews.com:

“Although the Washington Post was happy to take $100,000 or so from [the Center for Consumer Freedom] to run the ad, the newspaper apparently wasn’t too happy about the message. Several days after the ad ran, the Post published a lengthy story on front-page of its Business section knocking the Center for Consumer Freedom as the tool of the restaurant industry.

What’s really scandalous, though, is how the Post kept the Center’s money while simultaneously disparaging it.”

Steven apparently thinks that once a company becomes an advertiser, they’re off-limits from criticism. If Steve’s implying that Fox News doesn’t attack companies that advertise on the network, he might have just got the ball rolling on a scandal of his own.

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Category: Media Mayhem

Government communication campaigns explained

May 7th, 2005 · No Comments

What is wrong with this picture? There may be multiple correct answers…

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Category: Media Mayhem

FOX Jazeera?

April 12th, 2005 · No Comments

aljazeera.jpgAl Jazeera isn’t for sale yet, but according to recent reports, its sale is on the cards.

During the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, Western journalists were often ’embedded’ with the troops of the world’s only superpower (and its allies). Meanwhile, Al Jazeera was on the streets ’embedded’ with the people on the receiving end of the fire, broadcasting footage that often revealed the human consequences of the conflicts.

If Al Jazeera is sold, such raw reporting might not be the priority of the new owners. For example, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Network’s internal memos demonstrate that when the US is the perpetrator, the violence of war is deliberately kept off-air.

Iran and Syria are still considered ‘Axis of Evil’ nations by the US and ‘conflict’ continues in Iraq. Over the coming years, citizens of Western democracies will continue to evaluate the actions of our governments and their military choices in the Middle East. In the near future, however, footage of the consequences of those choices might be in even shorter supply.

More info:

Auction Alert! Al Jazeera For Sale

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