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

a media inquiry « Previous | |Next »
September 15, 2011

A media inquiry into the Australia media now going to take place. It is narrow in its focus as it is concerned with print media regulation, including online publications, and the operation of the Press Council. There is nothing explicit about the concentration of media ownership, but it could function to open issues up.

It is linked to ongoing Convergence Review that's been looking at those parts of the media which have always been regulated by the state - radio and television. How should the rules that used to apply to them be recast to be relevant in an era when all media are about to converge into the digital stream? Will the announced media inquiry be linked to issues around individual privacy, in the light of the Law Reform Commission reports and News International's phone hacking in the UK.

News Limited is the biggest player in the Australian media and any inquiry will touch on its business. It's reaction was predictable: --the inquiry is a threat to press freedom and free speech and it is driven by the Greens. Mark Day says:

The Gillard government's media inquiry is a sop to the Greens - a piece of window-dressing designed to demonstrate that it can be seen to be doing something...newspapers have been free of government controls for nigh on 400 years and represent a vital part of the democratic process.The terms of reference leave open the possibility of tighter codes of practice and new regulation.If the inquiry produces such recommendations the media industry will push back strongly, which is hardly what a government polling in the 20s a year out from an election is likely to want.

Therein lies the threat from News Ltd. It will to attack the Gillard Government with even more negative coverage if they dare to introduce even some modest regulatory reforms.

For News Ltd there is no issue here other than ensuring that self-regulation continues. Not even the crappy, journalism designed to misrepresent that is now normal. Or accountability of the media to the public. Or that the Press Council to be given more statutory teeth, that it requires non-media resources, that it needs to lift its game and that it should be broadened to cover all media.

The News Ltd's position is that free speech is reduced to press freedom and equated with no regulation. Surprisingly, many journalists and commentators concur. Michelle Grattan, for instance, finishes her column thus: "any move to regulate newspapers would be laced with more dangers than positives."

Grattan presents no argument to supported this claim, even though News Ltd newspapers daily breach their own Professional Conduct Policy. And yet she well knows that the press do not to present information to citizens without distortion, misrepresentation and deception on issues such as the Iraq war, climate change, the national broadband network, clean energy etc.

Journalist's are loathe to criticize the media for the deceptions practiced in the name of an enlightening media that professes to hold governments accountable to s ensure a better democracy.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:50 AM | | Comments (6)
Comments

Comments

I can see two possible benefits to this. Andrew Bolt's blog, and possibly the comments, would come up for consideration. And it considers blogs to be media, something the msm can't tolerate.

Other than that, it's not going to change anything the press already does. Possible government handouts for new start ups and maybe News competitors like Crikey, New Matilda and The Conversation.

Will they be taking submissions from the public? That would be something to see.

Behind Mark Days "The Gillard government's media inquiry is a sop to the Greens" sits the view that the media inquiry will be used as a vehicle for vengeance on the Gillard government’s perceived media enemies --ie., News Ltd

It cannot be stated openly because the terms of reference, the form of the inquiry and the people conducting do not justify such a claim.

The notion of a free and independence of the media is premised on its ability, and practice, to protect the public interest.

The private print and TV media are no longer concerned with the public interest. They are primarily concerned with their private commercial interest; and that is not the public interest.

"For News Ltd there is no issue here other than ensuring that self-regulation continues. Not even the crappy, journalism designed to misrepresent that is now normal"

News Corp's questionable journalistic practices, abuses of market power and corruption of the political process are well known.

What we have in Australia are the commercial benefits that media moguls bludgeon out of cowering politicians.

George says:

"Behind Mark Day's "The Gillard government's media inquiry is a sop to the Greens" sits the view that the media inquiry will be used as a vehicle for vengeance on the Gillard government’s perceived media enemies --ie., News Ltd.It cannot be stated openly because the terms of reference, the form of the inquiry and the people conducting do not justify such a claim.

It has been made explicit. Paul Fletcher, a federal Liberal MP, writes in The Australian that in reality, despite Conroy's rhetoric, this review is not about convergence or new business models.
Labor and the Greens have complained long and loud about the coverage they receive from the News Limited papers. This inquiry is an exercise in retaliation, designed to lead to the imposition of new regulatory burdens on News Limited papers, with those operated by other companies to suffer collateral damage.
It is a political exercise pure and simple. For anyone who cares about the role of newspapers in our democracy, this new inquiry is the last thing we need. It should be cancelled immediately.

This, Fletcher says, is as close as you can come to having an inquiry into News Limited without expressly stating that you are targeting that company.

As our right-wing authoritarian cousins like to say... "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear"