Major changes in the media in Oz will have their impact here – some already have. Fairfax’s mastheads the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age are going tabloid, cutting staff, and putting up paywalls on their websites. Gina Rinehart, the world’s richest woman has bought a 20% share, wants three seats on the board and editorial control to attack the Gillard government over the mining tax.
Rupert Murdoch’s News International, taking a bruising at the Leveson enquiry in Britain, wants to buy Foxtel and Fox sports from James Packer, who sees more money these days in casinos. The Australian, Murdoch’s masthead, has also been vitriolic in its pursuit of Gillard over the same mining tax.
Meanwhile the most respected institution in Australia is the ABC. No-one would say that about Television New Zealand, our state-owned (for the time being) broadcaster. It is shutting down Channel 7 and turning it into a shopping channel. Radio New Zealand probably would qualify for the most respected New Zealand media institution – no wonder the National Ministers appear on it so rarely.
Here too Murdoch already owns Sky which has a monopoly on pay TV, sport on television, and is facing an enquiry by the Commerce Commission into restraint of trade issues over on-line content. There’s no money in papers who have lost the classified income stream – the DomPost is as thin as the proverbial rake.
This rant from Paul Kelly, editor-at-large of the Australian, and chief Gillard-basher, was interesting:
Paul Kelly, editor-at-large for News Ltd’s The Australian, suggests Australia risks diminishing “the debate that is essential to save quality public policy in Australia”.
“It is not just politics that is being undermined by the tyranny of the digital age and the entrenchment of cheap, short-term populism,” he fulminated. The rise of citizen journalism and fragmented media ownership “also creates a crisis for the democratic state as it destroys the ability of leaders to build consensus for necessary reforms”.
To which one might simply say “get used to it”.
Interesting times ahead for all, including the Standard.