The hotly anticipated changes to Australia’s media ownership laws could be introduced to federal parliament as soon as its first sitting of the year.
The Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has reportedly discussed changes with the major players including Australia’s top media companies and members of his own party and crossbenchers. There had been some concerns that any changes to the laws would affect regional areas and would be voted down by members of the National Party.
Yesterday, Fifield told ABC Radio: “What I don’t want to do is introduce a package into the parliament that won’t have the support of the parliament. I want to make sure … given that there are very open minds across the parliament, that we take the opportunity.”
Fifield agreed that the current laws that don’t allow a media player to own a print, TV and radio operation (known as the “two out of three” law) was out of date and he added that any new laws be “important for regional operators”.
He also agreed that the “reach rule” which forbids a media operator from reaching more than 75 per cent of the population was out of date due to new technologies.
“The reach rule and also the two-out-of-three rule as it’s known are the two that I am particularly looking at, but what I am told and what I hear from various players in media markets is that they want the freedom to configure themselves the way that they best think suits their business,” he said.
Fifield said that the new laws would reflect “the world that we currently live in” as “the media laws we currently have are gradually being rendered redundant by both technology and the choices that gives consumers.”