Oz Media Reforms Face Hold-up

03 July 2006

Australia's much anticipated media reforms - pencilled to become law by the year end [WAMN: 16-Jun-06] - have once again been derailed.

Communications minister Helen Coonan says the larger part of the package will now be delayed, with no date on the horizon, while a small rump of measures will go through as pledged.

The proposed reforms include a switch from analog to digital television by 2012 and the scrapping of cross- and foreign-media ownership rules. The mix also includes an auction of spectrum for up to thirty new digital channels, plus the introduction of multi-channelling on free-to-air TV.

It is this last reform that has riled the nation's media moguls. Most vociferous in opposition to the plans has been satellite TV magnate Rupert Murdoch who claims they favour free-to-air broadcasters.

Prime Minister John Howard has now been 'persuaded' of Murdoch's concerns and announced that his government would not waste "an enormous amount of time or political capital" to get the media reforms through.

Valiantly fighting her corner, Coonan concedes that delay is inevitable but adds: "We will shortly be looking at the package to see if the framework can be adopted. Then there will be quite a lot of additional work that will need to go into some subsets of the package."

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