Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Coonan and the government need to cast a wider net in considering cross media ownership changes.

Mark Fletcher
June 30th, 2005 · No Comments

While the Federal Government of our fair nation (Australia) continues to wonder about what to do about its out of date cross media ownership laws (read – figures out how to appease the current major players and opinion influencers) the world moves on at a faster and more commercial rate.

In this place I have already I’ve talked about the Telstra and other trials of television content on phones, newspapers podcasting (alas, not in Australia yet), magazines going online, newspapers producing online evening news TV type bulletins etc etc.

But it’s when you read a story such as this story from the International Herald Tribune that you can see how much things have changed. We are experiencing convergence at a rapid rate. French mobile phone users will have access to 25 TV channels for around A$28 a month. Commuters will be able to watch rather than read. To retain value in their brand as news aggregator newspaper publishers will want to be on one or more channels.

I’ll leave those thoughts for another day. What interests me today is the cross media ownership laws and the game the government is playing.

Given the change in the technology landscape and the opportunity for more players at the low cost end I’d like to see the government ask Australians what they want. Such an inquiry could help develop community interest in creating content by putting the technologies of podcasting and blogging on the table as part of the mix. We need to know what people think about the emerging mobile options and how they consider news delivered via these devices compared to newspapers.

The changes in regulation can be used by the government for their own political advantage and the commercial gain of their friends or they can be the changes which will benefit Australians. I don’t know if the goals are mutually exclusive. Only talking with the public can shed some light on that.

We need to make sure that it is easy for competitors to enter a marketplace and that the supply chain is not controlled by a small group of national or multi national companies.

So, Helen Coonan needs more than newspaper publishers, television network proprietors and radio station proprietors at the table discussing the regulatory changes she is working on. Helen Coonan needs to be talking with podcasters, bloggers, citizen journalists and the public.

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