Who controls the media within Australia? And does it matter?
Well yes, yes it does.
Most would say the government controls the media, and although the government controls the regulations of media ownership, there are actually a handful of individual business men and women who own and control broadcast media, making Australian media ownership amongst the most concentrated in the world (Donovan 2011). Rupert Murdoch, son Luchlan Murdoch, Kerry Stokes, Bruce Gordon and Gina Rinehart, just to name a few, each have money invested into multiple broadcast media outlets, with many of them co investors into the same companies.
This lack of diversity is a problem because these people have private, commercial and political interests and use their control over the media to make sure these interests are addressed above all other news, in turn ignoring journalistic and editorial independence (Pusey & McCutcheon 2011). Further more, these opinions and interest are published over numerous media outlets, leaving Australian audiences with less alternative sources to use to make their decisions (Donovan 2011). Why? Well, they own the lot. It becomes undemocratic when the only sources of news published is not in the best interest of the public, but in the interest of the media figureheads’ personal agenda.
This notion has recently been seen with billionaire mining giant Gina Reinhart’s further grab at shares within Fairfax Meida (McKnight 2012). Fairfax Media produces a plethora of news stories for various media outlets such as newspapers like the Sydney Morning Herald, radio and magasines throughout Australia and New Zealand. With previous shares already invested in Chanel 10, this new move makes Reinhart the largest shareholder of Fairfax Meida, putting her nearly at a point of complete ownership. This begs the question of what news will be publicised for their audiences if she has complete control.
Rinehart’s aim to takeover of Fairfax means she will have control over what editorials are published and allow just those thatexploit her own personal ideologies in effort to influence audiences (McKnight 2012), all in aid to her mining company and the mining industry. For example, over matters like taxation, land access, low cost labour, and an anti climate change movement and much much more.
Although some may argue this, Gina Rinehart has already demanded 3 board seats (Simpson 2012), the right to make editorial decisions and the right to fire and hire editors within Fairfax (Holgate 2012). She also wishes to change the Charter of Editorial Independence (Norrie 2012), an agreement that protects the integrity of journalists, in order to have more say in what can and can’t be published. The fact that she wants this kind of power sends an alarm bell ringing and proves she has an agenda. This supports that she is willing to sacrifice news that is in the public’s best interest and instead, only allow bias publishing that favour her personal gain.
So, with Fairfax Media contributing news to a large majority of news outlets around Australia and New Zealand, and with the threat of Rinehatrs rein over published stories, it is clear that diverse media ownership is important and that it should not be in the hands of solely the elite.
Donovan, D 2011, Concentrated Media Ownership: a crisis for democracy, viewed 28 March 2014, <http://www.independentaustralia.net/article-display/concentrated-media-ownership-a-crisis-for-democracy,3259>.
Holgate, B 2012, Rinehart seeks editorial influence at Fairfax, viewed 28 March 2014,<http://www.afr.com/p/business/companies/rinehart_seeks_editorial_influence_GVsqimYyw8lxZFIcL7XuZP>.
McKnight, D 2012, Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch: a study of power in the media, viewed 28 March 2014,
Norrie, J 2012, MPs warn Rinehart against editorial meddling at Fairfax, viewed 28 March 2014,
Pusey, M, & McCutcheon, M 2011, ‘FROM THE MEDIA MOGULS TO THE MONEY MEN? MEDIA CONCENTRATION IN AUSTRALIA’, Media International Australia (8/1/07-Current), vol. 1, no. 140, p. 22-34, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 28 March 2014.
Simpson, K 2012, Rinehart’s Fairfax battle gets personal, viewed 28 March 2014,