The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) in strongly criticizing proposed legislation that will change media ownership rules in Australia. The IFJ and MEAA continue to press for meaningful reform to genuinely encourage and promote a diverse and robust media landscape.
14 September 2017 – Today, September 14, legislation is due to passed by the Australian Parliament that will remove the two-out-of-three ownership rule and will ultimately see a loss of diversity in the Australian media. Through the changes, companies will be able to own television, newspapers and radio stations in the same market, as well as an end to the 75% rule, which will mean Australia’s three major TV networks will now be able to own their regional affiliates. According to The Conversation, Australia’s media market is already one of the most concentrated markets in terms of ownership in the developed world.
Under the new legislation, a new innovative fund will be launched and benefit small publishers, provided that they are Australian companies and not connected to foreign media companies. Eligible small publishers will be able to apply for grants to perform civic journalism, buy equipment, and develop digital products, like new apps. The government has also agreed to provide scholarships for journalists from regional areas, and rural cadetships.
MEAA’s CEO Paul Murphy said: “This is a poor day for media diversity. The last important protection – the two-out-of-three rule – has been abandoned and there is nothing in its place. Australia, which already has one of the highest concentrations of media ownership in the world, is now saying that a plurality of media voices doesn’t matter. And history shows that once diversity is lost, you cannot get it back. The structural challenges faced by the Australian media sector will only be slightly stalled by these reforms. As companies amalgamate, more media jobs will be lost and with their loss, public scrutiny will be further reduced.”
“MEAA will be looking closely at the details of the jobs and innovation package, in particular to ensure that the wages and working conditions of any trainees in the program are appropriately safeguarded,” said Paul Murphy.
The IFJ said: “Across the Asia Pacific media outlets and journalists are facing increasing challenges to keep their jobs. Governments should be working with unions and outlets to support journalism and not legislate changes that are ultimately going to cost jobs and weaken Australia’s media.”
International Federation of Journalists