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Prime, SCA and WIN launch regional advertising campaign aimed at pushing media reform

Hartigan

Hartigan

Australia’s major regional media players Prime Media, Southern Cross Austereo and WIN have begun running an advertising campaign across TV and radio aimed at pushing the Federal Government to act on media reform.

The campaign was first flagged by Prime chairman John Hartigan last month, after he accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office of being “bloody-minded” in its refusal to move on issues such as the reach rule and restrictions on owning multiple media type, known as the two out of three rule.

“Tonight there is a series of advertisements being launched,” said Hartigan, on stage at The Kennedy Awards, “This is about saving the jobs of journalists and it is something that has gotten little interest in most ranks, especially in government.

“Prime has joined with Southern Cross Austereo and also with WIN to try and get the Federal Government to reform the rules around regional television.

“We have already seen newsrooms closing in regional Australia there has got to be a stop. We have got to get the oxygen in the debate to save these jobs.”

Phase one of the campaign is what the networks are calling a “teaser'” commercial which was launched on all the regional networks last night.

In a statement, Southern Cross Austereo CEO Grant Blackley said: “Regional television and radio employs over 2,500 people in regional areas and allows local business to reach their customers.

“Regional voices are under threat. We’ve also seen cuts to Fairfax regional media operations and across the ABC’s rural network.

“We think our audiences should know what’s going on and help support their local MP’s to convince Canberra it’s time to change the rules.”

In May the WIN Network announced the closure of two regional newsrooms in Victoria and Queensland, suggesting it was not commercially viable to continue operating them.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Both Abbott and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull have said they want “consensus” among the major media owners before they introduce reforms to laws which affect ownership and how much of the population media networks can reach.

“Consensus – consensus in media is a bit like saying football games should all be drawn,” said Hartigan, last month. “It is just not going to happen and if it did happen then I think the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) should be called in to ask why there is a uniform view about competition.

“It’s just not going to happen, it was never going to happen and shouldn’t be a condition of media reform.”

Comment is being sought from Turnbull’s office about the new advertising campaign.

Speaking at the Kennedy Awards in Sydney Hartigan also called on other elements of the media to support the regional networks campaign.

“There aren’t that many people on our side even though it’s all about saving journalism in regional Australia and so any support you can give I’d greatly appreciate,” he said.

Nic Christensen 

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