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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

media diversity + journalism « Previous | |Next »
October 13, 2006

When Eric Beecher appeared before the Senate communications committee's review of the planned media legislation on September 28 he made the following remarks about the cross-media rules which prevent individuals controlling both print and broadcasting outlets in a single market:

A lot of people talk about the importance of media diversity. But I don't actually see the core question as media diversity. The diversity people should talk about is the diversity of journalism. It seems to me the diversity of the rest of the media, of music on FM radio stations and of entertainment on television and that kind of thing, is quite irrelevant to a debate about the cross-media rules. I don't think it matters how few people own music stations or run soapies on television. I do think it's critical to democracy that there is diversity in journalism in news and opinions, in political coverage, business coverage.

Beechers must be one of the few voices in Australia that still continues to link journalism to democracy and to distinquish that issue from diversity in media as entertainment.

Beecher went on to say:

This whole debate about diversity gets bogged down in a kind of umbrella that's far too broad. Really, the kind of diversity of journalism I'm talking about, the power that is exercised in journalism, lies in newspapers, some television and radio news and talk programs. And that's about it. I think the focus should be on those aspects of the media. From experience, the cross-media rules are the only mechanism to guarantee diversity in journalism. We are talking about a diversity in this country that is already very fragile .

Journalism is in a pretty poor state in Australia. The op-eds are not that substantive. Beecher goes on to say:
The question I would ask is: 'What is the justification for removing or weakening the cross-media rules in a climate like that?' Is there public demand for it alteration? I certainly haven't noticed any public demand. I have not heard any. Are media companies ailing? Do we have an industry that has economic malfunction? Here are some facts: In the past year profits in the media industry were higher than ever before. This is a booming industry. It's an industry that makes profit margins - that is, the percentage of profits to revenue - that are higher than almost all other industries in Australia.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:34 AM | | Comments (0)
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