26 July 2018

Labor notes the announcement that Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment propose to merge their print, TV, radio and online businesses to create the largest single commercial media entity in Australia.

According to reports, after nearly two centuries of writing the first draft of Australian history, the Fairfax name is about to disappear in one of the biggest media mergers in our history.

Labor pays tribute to Fairfax and our thoughts are with the dedicated workers and their families facing change and uncertainty at this time.

But what this is really about is media diversity.

Australia already has one of the most concentrated media markets in the world.

This proposed merger means it is about to get even more concentrated.

Last year Malcolm Turnbull repealed the 2 out of 3 cross-media control rule which prevented any one media voice from becoming too dominant.

Turnbull junked it with the help of Pauline Hanson and now there’ll be further media consolidation and further job losses in the media, potentially even in regional areas.

Labor opposed the repeal of the 2 out of 3 rule in the Parliament because democracy suffers if you have too few media voices; workers suffer when mergers inevitably lead to job losses; and citizens, consumers and communities get less diversity, less coverage and less choice.

That’s why we continue to be very concerned about media concentration.

But the crazy thing is this: Malcolm Turnbull junked the media diversity rule at the same time as he launched a full scale attack on the ABC and SBS.

The Turnbull Government has been working overtime to undermine media diversity and look after the top end of town at the expense of the public interest in Australia. 

It is beyond belief that the Minister for Communications is out there today boasting that the Turnbull Government supports media diversity.  

The Liberals cut the ABC and SBS after promising no cuts and have launched an ideological attack on public broadcasting with three bills before Parliament to meddle with the ABC and SBS Acts, a competitive neutrality inquiry and a further efficiency review - to say nothing of the barrage of complaints by the Minister.

What this proposed merger means is that public broadcasting has never been more important in Australia.

We need quality news and journalism from a range of sources, which is why protecting the ABC and SBS from Liberal cuts is critical, and why Labor will always fight for public broadcasting.