Media ‘reforms’ will make dissent harder

Rupert Murdoch stands to enlarge his empire under the new media laws.
September 22, 2017

The nationwide debate over equal marriage rights has brought a lot more people into contact with Green Left Weekly.

Circulation of this “little paper with a big heart”, as a supporter once described us, is growing as more people look to alternative media sources for their information.

GLW is now in its 26th year of production — no mean feat for a not-for-profit newspaper in the most media monopolised country in the world.

The 2012 Finkelstein inquiry on media regulation was damning of the corporate media, its profit-driven bias and attack-dog mentality.

But its conclusions fell short of proposing ways to break up the user-pays system. Now, five years later, the Coalition government is pushing ahead with new laws to give the corporate media what it has been screaming for: less restriction on ownership and coverage.

The Coalition government, supported by the Nick Xenophon Team and Pauline Hanson One’s Nation, is slashing corporate licence fees and eliminating the “reach rule”, which prevented a single TV broadcaster from reaching 75% of the population.

It is also scrapping the “two out of three” rule which stops an individual or a company owning a newspaper, TV station and radio station in the same licence area.

This will allow News Corp to buy Channel 10, and Channel Nine to merge with Fairfax. It will also lead to a series of mergers between city stations and regional affiliates.

In every such corporate media “reform”, the big media barons benefit at the expense of smaller outlets and those looking for real news and a diversity of opinion.

The ever-increasing concentration of media is directly counterposed to real democracy, which has to involve dissent and debate.

If the big media moguls are given greater control over the news and information, then dissenting, or even just different views, are going to be harder and harder to find.

With news media increasingly valued as a commodity, rather than for its intrinsic informational value, how can society be better informed? How can it be encouraged to be critical of government and other elites?

Where will it find the space to come up with alternative critiques and solutions to the many urgent social and ecological problems society currently faces?

Many millennials, among others, have turned to the web to search for evidence-based news over spin. 

GLW has been online since 1991, but we need your help to get to more people.

As we have no corporate backers and rely on those who value the importance of progressive independent media, you can help by taking out a subscription and making a donation to our 2017 Fighting Fund. Direct deposits can also be made to Green Left, Bendigo Bank, BSB: 633-000 Account number: 160058699. Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 394, Broadway NSW 2007 or donate on 1800 634 206 (free call from anywhere in Australia).

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