Communication minister Mitch Fifield’s much vaunted media reform bill has gone before the senate today, however, it still doesn’t have the support of One Nation senators who the government needs to get the bill passed.
Both Labor and the Greens have said they will not pass the bill, despite widespread approval of it throughout the media industry and yesterday’s calamity at the Ten Network. Detractors of the bill don’t like the abolition of the “two-out-of-three rule” which they say will make Australian media more concentrated and less diverse.
The government is relying on 10 of the 12 independent senators to pass the bill. Crossbench senators David Leyonhjelm, Cory Bernardi and Derryn Hinch all said they will support it, while the three Nick Xenophon Team senators have agreed to it in principal but want some changes first.
One Nation has again reaffirmed its four senators won’t back the reforms if the bill includes the two-out-of-three rule, which stops a media company from owning more than two of radio, television or newspaper companies in any one market.
The One Nation senators are concerned about media concentration in Queensland and Western Australia, that don’t enjoy a great deal of diversity anyway.
Previously, One Nation has said it will only back the reforms if the government strips $600 million from the ABC’s annual budget following claims the public broadcaster is biased against the party and leader, Pauline Hanson. However, it appears the party is now backing away from those demands.
Yesterday, Fifield said: “I urge my colleagues in the senate to support this package in its entirety. The greatest threat to Australian media diversity would be an Australian media organisation that didn’t continue.” Labor accused the communications minister of using Ten’s financial woes as an opportunity for “cheap political gain”.
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