11 Mar 2016

Who benefits from media reform?

Not the public!

I know someone who's laughing all the way to the bank.

Many narratives flow from the current set of proposed changes, but the most alarming consequence is the collapse in diversity of news reporting – which is already compromised by regional TV networks closing newsrooms.
If mergers of regional licensees with city affiliates go ahead, the number of Australian commercial TV networks may become as few as three (plus Imparja in Alice Springs).
The proposed changes to the points system, which deals with the number of news stories relating to “local” areas, seeks to support diversity. 
Like so much government regulation, conscientiously planned by those with little experience of the industry it will affect, it will be easy to meet the target without honouring the purpose.
Story selection, buying in copy, sourcing amateur footage from mobile phones and using uncorroborated eyewitness accounts are among the many ways of covering the surface of events without providing the depth that serious news journalism demands.
The history of television regulation in Australia reveals two key lessons. First, licensee interests outweigh the public interest in the government’s eye, no matter what party is in power.
And if it is Sydney or the bush, bet on Sydney.

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