Oz Media Reform Set for Year End

16 June 2006

Australia's long-awaited media reforms could be in force by the end of this year.

Communications minister Senator Helen Coonan, who has been the driving force behind the proposed changes in ownership and a switch from analog to digital broadcasting, among other measures, believes the framework is "almost completed".

She told the National Press Club in Canberra that she might be prepared to move on minimum local content requirements for radio stations to get the reforms more swiftly through the legislature. She is under pressure from some members of parliament to ensure there is a diversity of media in regional areas.

Says Coonan; "We are looking at whether or not there needs to be minimum local content requirements for radio but we have to get the balance right. You've got to make sure you don't regulate them [regional radio stations] out of existence."

Nationals MP Paul Neville, who chaired an inquiry into regional radio, says his party will continue to push for more concessions on the controversial media changes.

He says: "I think you've got to get the fundamental architecture of who's operating in regional and rural Australia first and then you put some sensible guidelines down to make sure that it is regional radio and not some piped group of programs coming out of a hub to regional areas."

Under Coonan's proposed reforms, each capital city market will have to have a minimum of five media owners and each regional market a minimum of four.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff