A dramatic reshaping of Australia’s media industry is imminent after the Turnbull government’s plan to scrap “outdated and irrelevant” media ownership laws received endorsement from crucial Senate crossbenchers at the end of a day of furious backroom horse trading.
In exchange for his support, Senate kingmaker Nick Xenophon secured a suite of concessions from the government, including a one-off $60 million fund to support small publishers, journalism scholarships and subsidised journalism cadetships.
This includes $50 million over three years in grants to regional and small publishers, capped at $1 million per publication that is available from mid-2018. He believes these grants will create more jobs and “is there to expend civic journalism”.
Pauline Hanson announced support for the media deregulation package in August after the government agreed to a number of conditions, including introducing legislation requiring the ABC to be “fair and balanced”.
The One Nation deal may also force the ABC to disclose the salaries of high-profile presenters and staff earning more than $200,000 a year.
News Corp and Fairfax Media, which own many regional newspapers, are ineligible for the new funding, which will be distributed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
…Critically, Treasurer Scott Morrison has also agreed to have the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission conduct an inquiry into Google, Facebook and other internet giants.
Senator Xenophon said Google and Facebook were “hoovering up” $4 billion in advertising revenue in Australia, but paying little tax.
…The new laws will scrap the two-out-of-three rule and the 75 per cent reach rule, but still contain some ownership controls and local content requirements. For example, a single person cannot control more than two radio stations or more than one television station in a single market and there must be a minimum of four “voices” in regional cities and five in big cities. Each regional market requires 21 minutes of local content a day.
So, MB gets a hand out while Murdoch and Domainfax get to own everything else. The Facebook and Google investigations are ludicrous. All they did was build a better mouse trap. If they need to pay more tax then have a tax inquiry.
In short, we’ll see a three year cyclical boost to grass roots journalism in return for the structural crushing of it over time. That’s quality reform right there.
Well done, Xenoponzi, your realty empire will be well supported.