BusinessBusiness and finance

Australia gets ready to rewrite its outdated media laws

UPDATING Australia’s out-of-date media-ownership laws is not a job for the faint-hearted. Two years ago, the then prime minister, Tony Abbott, backed off from proposed reforms after two influential proprietors signalled their disapproval. Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corporation, and Kerry Stokes, who owns Seven, one of three commercial television networks, in effect blocked reform—supposedly because it was not radical enough.

Now Mr Abbott’s successor, Malcolm Turnbull, a market champion and former investment banker, is having a go. If he succeeds, as seems possible, a wave of takeovers will follow. A federal parliamentary committee is weighing proposed reforms. Mitch Fifield, the communications minister, wants them enacted before the next election, possibly in July. They involve dropping two notable rules. One is the “reach rule”, which stops commercial TV networks from broadcasting to more than three-quarters of the population. The other is the “two out of three” rule, which prevents firms owning more than two of a newspaper, radio or television outlet in the same city or region.

The existing law is nearly…Continue reading

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