Mitch Fifield: Don’t count out attempts to change the media ownership laws just yet

Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, has signalled that the Government wants to make it easier for Australia’s major media players to go through mergers.

Fifield used a round of interviews to reiterate that the Coalition remains keen to change the laws around media ownership despite fading hopes of getting changes through Parliament.

At present, individual TV networks are allowed to reach just 75% of the population while media companies can only own two-out-of-three media platforms – from radio, TV and newspapers – in any city.


Media ownership snapshot (click to enlarge) | Source: ACMA

Media companies have been arguing for changes to the ownership regulations for more than a decade, with Fifield just the latest Communications Minister to struggle to push them through.

Yesterday, in an interview with Nine News Canberra, Fifield blamed Labor for the legislation stalling. It has passed the House of Representatives but has not yet gone to the Senate where the reforms will need cross-bench support to be passed.

Fifield: preparing to take media reform to the party room.

Fifield: Local news protection

Asked about potential mergers, Fifield said: “Australian media organisations are in the best position to determine what is right for their business, what will help underpin their viability, and what I want to do and what the Government wants to do is to give them some greater flexibility to do that.

“So, if it makes sense for a couple of Australian media organisations to get together to support their viability, then we’d like to facilitate that.”

However, Fifield pledged that any changes would include new rules around guaranteeing local news content.

“But, importantly, in our legislation we have some protections for local news content that, if there were organisations that combine together, we would have new and higher requirements for local news content.”

And in a seperate interview with Sky News presenter, Patricia Karvelas, Fifeld denied that his reforms were dead. “As I’ve learned as the Manager of Government Business in the Senate, you can never count a piece of legislation out until you’ve actually had the vote in the Senate.”


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