Modia Minotaur

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Nationals Cautious on Cross Media Ownership

While the Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the Nationals are non-committal over proposed cross-media ownership reforms, Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce has gone much further in an interview with 2SM's Leon Delaney this morning (shortly before embarking on his trip to Antarctica - a trip that was arranged by outgoing Nats rat Julian McGuaran, reputedly to keep the Maverick Senator (tm) out of the party's hair for a bit). True, 2SM's at a distant end of the dial (1269, that is), it gets its fair share of ratbag callers, but its interviews tend to be long and quite searching, so it can be worth a listen.

Far from heming and hawing over the proposed reforms, Joyce openly invited listeners to write to himself and other Nationals MPs and senators expressing their concerns, and to generate as much public interest as possible to keep the issue on the agenda. He expressed his own belief that media moguls such as Packer and Murdoch had actively participated in the election of past Australian governments, as well as less controversial concepts, such as that regional news would be less likely to be well served under the new arrangements. Joyce's point on new media - that the internet has certainly had an impact, but that the readership of even the most influential website, such as Crikey.com, reaches fewer people and a less diverse demographic than any newspaper or radio station - is reasonable, as is his point that a fair, unbiased and diverse media has a crucial part to pay in a high quality democracy, not only because it effects how the public sees decision makers and their decisions, but the decision makers themselves, and the way they make those decisions. As such, the media has a large responsibility, and handing too much of that responsibility to any one entity is genuinely dangerous. As Delaney pointed out, the first thing highly dictatorial countries such as China do is control the media.

Let's hope the Nationals stand firm on this one.

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