Media ownership, the forgotten battleground

Australian media ownership is amongst the most concentrated in the world with 11 of the 12 major newspapers either owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation or Fairfax. We had 10 times more regular news papers 100 years ago when our population was less than 6 million people.

One month before Kevid Rudd won the 2007 election he flew to New York to meet Rupert Murdoch for undisclosed reasons which resulted in rather favourable treatment from News Corps papers at a crucial time. Much the same thing happened just prior to the Whitlam government being elected, but turned sour as soon as there was an attempt to regulate media ownership.

For the last 30 years there has been no government policy aimed at giving Australians a better choice in media sources or at breaking up the monopoly of Fairfax/Newscorp. These companies weild such power now that if any government were to even hint at legislation, their papers would tirelessly tarnish the government and could no doubt massively sway the population against a government.

As citizens we expect the media to attempt to report the truth and to provide us with a good balanced mix of opinions and intelligent educated commentary, but instead we get this. Commentary based on ignorance, fear, cruelty and utter stupidity, and it remains the most read ‘political’ blog in the country.

A democracy cannot function without a fair, impartial and aggressively independent media and if we as citizens do not insist on independent media and diverse media ownership we are doing ourselves an injustice.

In Italy today, Silvio Berlusconi (Pictured), the countries Prime Minister owns 60% of all Italian media (TV, Magazine, papers, Radio, Web News). Do we really want to head down this path?

The Australian media is amazingly lazy, the hardly research anything and source 90% of their stories about foreign events from Reuters & Associated press. Having a real journalist on the ground actually researching and reporting is apparently too costly for these multi billion dollar oligarchs.  When reporting on politics, public health, transport etc they are heavily edited so as not to offend any company (or their interests) that advertises with the station/newspaper. In short they will not tell you the full story, because it may not be in ‘their interest’. A crazy notion, seeings ‘their interest’ should be ours.

So next time you chuck on the TV or open the Herald-Sun/The Age, carefully look at the journalists name, look them up, see their history and always check who owns what you are reading/watching. We need 20 different companies running our media outlets, not 2 or 3, it simply isn’t good enough and its time we insisted on more diversity.

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