Setback for Australian Media Market Liberalization

21 June 2002

Australia’s media consolidation lobby took a giant step backward with the virtual collapse of new media liberalization legislation proposed by the nation’s rightist Liberal Party government

The administration, led by prime minister John Howard, and now in its third term, had hoped to steer a new bill through parliament before its winter [summer in the Northern hemisphere] recess – for which it would have needed the support of the main opposition Labor Party. This was not forthcoming.

As a result the bill is effectively on ice, consigning the expected flurry of takeover bids to the back burner. Topping overseas buyers’ shopping list is John Fairfax Holdings, publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age – the likely object of a bidding battle between Dow Jones of the US, Pearson of the UK, and Dublin-headquartered Independent News & Media.

The opposition parties are polarized: the Democrats argue that Australian media should remain owned by Australians, whereas the larger Labor Party is prepared to waive some of the present restrictions but wants more comprehensive regulation of pay-TV services.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff