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  • Writer's pictureHannah Phillips

The New Media Laws Won’t Help the Media Much

When the media reforms passed through the Senate at the death knell of parliamentary sittings there was much backslapping among Coalition members and supporters.

These were the most significant media reforms in 30 years Nikki Savva opined in her column in the ‘Australian’.

The reforms didn’t seem to help Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon when the Channel Ten creditors’ meeting was held on Tuesday.

They had sweetened their bid in the hope of luring the other creditors away from the CBS bid but the Americans matched them and the creditors endorsed their acquisition.

So the diversity of the media market has been enhanced notwithstanding the new laws.

The Xenophon reforms which were meant to promote journalism, particularly in the regions, seem to be a bit of a damp squib.

The government has allocated $60 million over three years to promote employment for journalists and capital investment in small and medium sized media organisations.

$8 million has been set aside to fund 200 cadetships. Since this amounts to $13,000 per year per cadet, it doesn’t seem much of an inducement to take on additional employees who will demand access to equipment and expenses to do their job.

The allocation for equipment is opaque: can it be used for broadcast studios or is it simply restricted to office equipment?

Unfortunately the media reforms will not do anything to offset the collapse of the business model for media organisations.

At the present time people are reluctant to pay for media, especially news.

There is so much news and purported news available for free, including from the public broadcasters, there is no compulsion to spend on information.

In terms of entertainment there is more available now than there has ever been.

The internet and smart TVs make the best material from around the world accessible in the average suburban home for a very modest cost.

The range of products available means that audience numbers for any one product are bound to be lower which, in turn, impacts on revenues.

Finding exclusive large audience products to offer advertisers is getting harder and harder.

This is why the commercial media owners are getting more and more concerned about the ‘competitive neutrality’ of the public broadcasters.

The ABC mafia have been strenuously defending their employer without getting the point.

To use taxpayers’ money to compete with commercial corporations in supplying to commercial customers is not consistent with being a public broadcaster.

It might be justified if the money earned was used to produce more Australian content but this isn’t what’s happening: Australian content on the public broadcasters is actually declining.

There is a suspicion that the revenue is being used to featherbed the staff which is why, since they are public servants, their salaries and entitlements should be publicly disclosed.

Kate Critchley

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