Diversity rules

Diversity rules

Australia is changing. Our population today is more diverse than ever. Nearly half of us were born overseas, or have at least one parent who was. More than 4 million Australians speak a language other than English at home. And 68% of us regularly enjoy food from all over the world. 

So, why doesn't Australia's media better reflect our cultural make up, or our appetite for culture? And what does this narrow focus do for advertisers wanting to reach a broad spectrum?

Australia has one of the highest levels of media ownership concentration in the developed world. All but one of the top 12 news sites are owned by existing media outlets. Our top three newspaper publishers have 98% market share in Australia.

Compare that to the top three in the US with 26% and the top three in the UK accounting for 62%. Concentrated ownership breeds similarity.

The disconnect between the diversity of our population and the concentration of our media ownership exists because it's been allowed to happen. In TV, the top three major FTA networks have enjoyed solid ratings and profitability for decades (recent issues aside), so why fix it if it ain't broken, right? In my view it's time for mainstream media outlets to wake up, take notice and think differently about how they talk to all Australians. 

It seems Harold Mitchell and I are on the same page in some respects regarding a lack of diversity in Australian media. Harold has noticed that many creative campaigns created here don't connect with the diverse Australian audience.

While he's pushing for diversity in creative advertising, and I'm talking about the diversity of media content, we are both pushing a similar message: Australian media can only benefit from embracing diversity.

When networks offer more of the same content, that's what advertisers get too. 

With budgets needing to work harder, advertisers deserve to actually reach Australia's population in all its diversity. The gap between the differing needs and wants of our population and what our media delivers is vast, and it's time for it to be closed. 

But I'm biased. SBS has just launched Diversity Works. This program aims to communicate what SBS content offers to brands: less of 'more of the same', and more 'diverse content how and when I want it.'

Andrew Cook is media director at SBS


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