Labor scraps controversial media bill plans

Labor scraps controversial media bill plans

Labor has pulled the plug on its controversial media reform plans after it failed to gain enough support to get them through Parliament.

Media bosses and journalists had raised grave concerns over the bills, which threatened to impose much tighter controls on news reporting, and cut a 75% audience reach rule limiting ownership.

It now poses fresh problems for a rumoured merger between the Nine Network and Southern Cross Austereo, which would have benefited from the scrapping of the reach rule.

However, two bills, one slashing the license fees for TV networks and one changing the rules around local content, which screen writers told B&T risks local shows being shunted onto secondary channels, managed to get through Parliament last night.

Among the most controversial elements was also a plan to introduce a new press watchdog which would, in effect, be beholden to the government.

On Monday some of the most powerful media barons in the country went before a Senate hearing into the bills to put their case against them, with many citing a real risk to local news as a key element. 

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