Murdoch's News Ltd criticises media review

2012-04-30 14:00
Sydney - Media baron Rupert Murdoch's News Limited on Monday criticised Australia's review of media and communications regulation, saying it was flawed and recommended too much government interference.

The independent review found Australia's policy and regulatory framework for content services was focused on the traditional structures of the 1990s - broadcasting and telecommunications - and outdated in the digital era.

It said regulation should be kept to a minimum but there were three areas where government intervention was justified in the public interest - media ownership, content standards, and the provision of Australian content.

"A key finding of the Review was that the community expects significant enterprises controlling professional media content to have some obligations, no matter how they deliver their services," it said.

"The Review proposes a policy framework that will regulate these enterprises based on their size and scope, rather than how they deliver their content."

It said the proposed framework would be concerned only with professional content such as 'television-like' services and newspaper content but exclude social media and other user-generated content.

'Serious flaws'

At a local level, it suggested a "minimum number of owners" rule to ensure that no media operator held a dominant influence in a market for news and commentary.

It also said the existing media watchdog be scrapped, recommending a statutory regulator for operators and a new industry-led body to oversee journalistic standards for news and commentary across all platforms.

But chief executive of Murdoch's Australian operation News Limited, Kim Williams, said the report appeared to suffer from "at least four primary serious flaws" including that it recommended more "heavy-handed regulation".

He said it proposed new regulations which were imprecisely defined and it recommended increasing regulation on traditional media companies via additional rules relating to ownership, Australian content and press complaints.

"It bizarrely excludes from regulation some powerful companies who compete against traditional media companies today," he added.

Murdoch is the dominant player in Australia's media market, holding about 70% of the nation's newspapers.

Government yet to respond

But review chairperson Glen Boreham dismissed the criticism, saying the idea "there would be a Big Brother, all-encroaching entity is wrong".

"It's not more regulation, it's better and more effective regulation," he said, The Australian reported.

The government is yet to respond to the report.

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