Each week, we will look at industry news curated by MediaScope. This week we look at the winners of the proposed media ownership changes in Australia, the risk local journalism faces and how we can save it.
Fact Check: Is Australia’s level of media ownership one of the most concentrated in the world? (Tim Dwyer – The Conversation)
The assertion that Australia’s media ownership concentration is among the highest in the world is well supported by a range of credible sources. Newspaper ownership in Australia is particularly concentrated. Broadcasting industries are also highly concentrated in comparison with the rest of the world.
Media ownership matters: Why politicians need to take on proprietors (Michael Pusey – The Conversation)
Liberal, “fourth estate” standards of journalistic independence and diversity of opinion are essential conditions for informed citizenship and freedom of speech and hence for the proper functioning of a democracy. By those standards Australia compares poorly with most other developed OECD nations. The Australian situation has much to do with the historic domination of the Australian media by the three media dynasties of Packer, Fairfax and Murdoch. All three have at various times asserted their private commercial and political interests strongly, and used their influence in ways that flouted journalistic and editorial independence.
The biggest winner of the current proposed media reforms are News Corp – as usual (Tim Burrowes – Mumbrella)
Currently, the TV networks are only allowed to reach a maximum of 75% of the population. And in any local area, media companies can only be in two out of three of free-to-air TV, radio and newspapers. It’s why the big three – Seven, Nine and Ten – are twinned with regional affiliates including Prime, SCA and WIN. There are about seven key clans in the forthcoming media Game of Thrones: the Murdoch family; Kerry Stokes; Bruce Gordon; Fairfax shareholders; Nine shareholders; Southern Cross Austereo shareholders; and Prime Media Group shareholders. (Let’s assume for now that Ooh Media and APN Outdoor are focused on their proposed merger.) Some are potential buyers. Some are potential takeover targets. And some are both. In the intrigues that lie ahead, News Corp will be the biggest winner. It always is.
Australia’s journalism in mortal danger – and politicians should join the fight to save it (Gay Alcorn – The Guardian)
Surely it’s time for politicians to speak bluntly about the critical role public interest journalism plays and the devastating impact of mass redundancies. End the ideologically driven chatter about cutting ABC funding further. The national broadcaster is more crucial than ever, especially in regional towns and cities where local newspapers have been decimated. And the ABC needs to reverse its decision to cut local television current affairs as a matter of urgency. At the same time, the ABC can’t be a monolith. At least look at Scandinavian countries such as Norway, which does modestly subsidise some news organisations in the cause of local competition. Governments could consider tax breaks for investors in online journalism, or charity status for non-profit local journalism. Public interest journalism as a vital cog in a functioning democracy. Now, we’re like the frog in water that has been heating up for many years, and the water is boiling now.
Open letter to marketers: It’s up to you to save the media industry now (Alex Hayes – Mumbrella)
Mainstream media is close to crisis point, with revenues drying up and quality content in shorter supply than ever. The erosion and declines in mainstream media are a bad thing for society, but they’re an even worse thing for marketers, because when they’re gone, what’s left? Untrained bloggers, influencers and of course Facebook and Google. And with less competition come higher prices. And so the trap is set. What’s my solution? It’s simple. Ringfence a proportion of your budget and pledge it directly to a handful of media organisations to do something interesting and valuable with.