News’ Michael Miller Slams Media Laws As “Unfair Playing Field”

News’ Michael Miller Slams Media Laws As “Unfair Playing Field”

News Corp CEO Michael Miller has used a speech to the Melbourne Press Club yesterday to call for the relaxation of media ownership laws that prevent media companies “from playing on a level playing field” against the likes of Google and Facebook.

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In a wide-ranging speech Miller outlined the difficulties facing his and other media businesses but added he was optimistic about the future of traditional media companies in Australia.

“The current media legislation was established in a world pre the internet and prevents us all from competing on a level playing field,” Miller told his audience, many media types and journalists.

“It’s a legislation that prohibits Australian media companies achieving the scale needed to meet these challenges.

“And while we can justifiably blame technology, society’s changes, piracy, global players, government and legislation for our current dire state, we must assume some of the blame ourselves.

“The fact is: less is being invested in Australian content across all mediums, and the challenge of producing great content is harder to meet; we are primarily domestically oriented, focused on our traditional competitive share rather than investing regionally for growth; while at the same time, reducing the marketing and promotion of our brands and our talent,” he said.

Miller cited these issues as media’s most pressing:

  • The advertising pie is shrinking, and revenues in print and FTA TV are declining and not accelerating in digital. June’s SMI numbers showed another 10 per cent decline in the agency ad revenue;
  • There are more players than ever before competing for this decreasing pie;
  • The cost of entry and to operate are lower than ever, enabling start-ups and pop-up publishers to compete for eyeballs, ears and dollars;
  • Then there are the international streamers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube who continue to dilute local broadcast audiences;
  • The Daily Mail, the New York Times, The Guardian and many others are taking share in the news category;
  • Global digital advertising players such as Google and Facebook dominate the new advertising landscape, accounting for 85 per cent of new digital revenues over the past year;
  • These global broadcasters, publishers and networks challenge us with scale and resources previously unseen in this country and dwarfing those of the local industry, while pushing up our creative and content costs.
  • Then there’s the current media legislation was established in a world pre the internet and prevents us all from competing on a level playing field.

Miller added: “I am an optimist. I believe in what we do. But I am not Pollyanna. I am a realist. And as an industry, we do have some real challenges. These challenges are well documented, and well known to you all,” he said.

However, he did finish on a positive note, telling the audience, “The future of Australian media will be determined by those who work together, work smarter, put their customers first and continue to invest in the craft that is of the utmost importance to this country – journalism.

“I am, as I said, an optimist and I am confident of a vibrant future ahead,” he said.