Does it matter who owns and controls the media?
As the deregulation of the current media laws in Australia becomes more and more of a reality, it’s time to question what effect this will have on us – the audience.
The government wants to deconstruct our current media market laws – by removing the current “two out of three” rule and the “75% reach” rule that presently oversights the media distribution in Australia.
The “two of three” rule is a law that has been set up to prevent one body from ‘controlling more than two out of three traditional media platforms’ in one radio licence area. Further, no one company or person can hold the control over a broadcasting television licence that reaches over 75% of the nation.
But the government wants to get rid of these laws, allowing a company or individual to have no restrictions over distribution. Shadow Minister for Communications, Jason Clare, has understood, as stated in an interview with the ABC, the reason behind the reform is to ‘create bigger, more vertically integrated media companies’. And it makes sense. Scrapping these laws would allow media companies to grow to, perhaps, their full potential, rather than be restrained by laws that prevent them from reaching a larger scale audience.
But what problems does this put forward?
Media companies often come with their own ideologies, and these can be present in their media product. The diversity and disparity in the media is important to allow voices from different companies and different individuals to be heard and received by an audience. Throwing away the media laws means that control over Australian media can be had by very few companies, and hence, the diversity that is so essential to creating new ideas, points of view and possibly challenging or conflicting arguments will be lost.
The greater number of people that have control over media, the greater the variation in voices on a topic. In an industry where it is so easy to be biased toward particular issues, from the choice of what to cover to the content itself, it’s so important to have the ability to seek more voices to be able to create your own. How stories are told and making sure you get the whole picture is important – and allowing a monopoly on the media won’t make that easy.
So what’s the verdict?
It does matter who owns the media, and it matters HOW MANY people own it, too.
Media monopoly? Definitely not a game I want to play.
Sydney Morning Herald. 2016. Coalition approves media law shake up. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.smh.com.au/business/media-and-marketing/coalition-approves-media-law-shakeup-20160301-gn7248.html. [Accessed 22 March 16].
The Conversation. 2016. Fifield wants media ownership changes passed before the election. [ONLINE] Available at: http://theconversation.com/fifield-wants-media-ownership-changes-passed-before-the-election-55574. [Accessed 22 March 16].
2016, 22 March 16, Local regional content at risk from proposed media law reform, says Shadow Communications Minister. 1. 02 March 16, http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2016/s4416877.htm. 22 March 16.