Get-Up report on media concentration

13 March 2022

Labor is concerned about the health and diversity of Australia’s media sector and its impact on our democracy and society.

That is why Labor has been fighting moves by this Government to undermine media diversity.

Labor has long called out the fact that Australia has one of the most concentrated media markets in the world, yet the Liberal National Government is actively trying to make things worse.

Labor opposed the Government’s repeal of the 2 out of 3 cross-media control rule in 2017 which allowed our media to get even more concentrated and permitted Nine’s takeover of Fairfax. 

Labor opposed the Government’s ABC budget cuts, which forced the ABC to shut shortwave radio, cut news bulletins and current affairs programs and sack hundreds of staff, among other things.

Labor fought this Government’s plans to boot Community TV off-air every step of the way. We are pleased the Senate passed an amendment giving CTV a three-year extension to remain on air and condemn the Morrison Government for mishandling the sector which has seen stations in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth close down.

Labor is holding the Government to account for its mismanagement of taxpayer funds for public interest journalism.

In 2017 the Government announced a $50 million fund for regional and small publishers but failed to get the money out the door.

In 2020 the Government re-announced $35 million as part of a new fund that initially failed to cater for AAP and disadvantaged publishers. Now publishers are warning it was all too little, too late.

Labor has been calling on Government to reform Australia’s out-dated media laws for years, yet they have failed to do so, despite broad-ranging acknowledgement of the need for reform, the closure of hundreds of newspapers and early warning signs of market failure in regional television broadcasting.

Labor has called for the Government to put concrete, workable proposals to support Australia’s media on the table.

The fact is the Government still hasn’t acted on the recommendations of previous Senate Inquiries into the public interest journalism and the media, and is yet to realise the recommendations of the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry, which itself devotes an entire appendix to “Recent reviews of media industry laws and regulations”.

The concept of diversity is enduring and goes to the heart of our democracy.

Calls for support for the media shows it is a matter of deep concern to many Australians and that this Government isn’t convincing anyone that it is doing enough to support a diverse, free and fair media.