Media inquiry: Print, online yes. TV no.

The government has formally announced its independent inquiry into the Australian media, looking at print and online media.

But television and radio were not included in the terms of reference announced by Senator Stephen Conroy. Broadcast regulation is currently under consideration by the Convergence Review.

Media ownership is also not part of the inquiry.

While it will look at strengthening the Australian Press Council, there is no specific mention of the Australian Communications and Media Authority -however ACMA’s role does include internet regulation.

“The Media Inquiry I am announcing today will focus on print media regulation, including online publications, and the operation of the Press Council,” Senator Conroy said.

“The Government believes a separate and distinct examination of the pressures facing newspapers and their newsrooms, including online publications, will enhance our consideration of the policy and regulatory settings Australia needs to ensure that the news media continues to serve the public interest in the digital age,”

The independent inquiry will be led by former Justice of the Federal Court of Australia, Ray Finkelstein QC, assisted by Dr Matthew Ricketson, Professor of Journalism at Canberra University.

Senator Conroy acknowledged the pressures of digital technologies and the 24 hour news cycle were threatening traditional business models.

“A healthy and robust media is essential to the democratic process,” Senator Conroy said.

“The Australian Government believes it is incumbent upon government to ensure regulatory processes and industry structures are sufficiently strong to support the continuation of a healthy and independent media that is able to fulfil its essential democratic purpose, and to operate in the public interest.”

The Inquiry will provide its findings to the Convergence Review early next year, with the latter due to report at the end of March.

Terms of Reference:

a) The effectiveness of the current media codes of practice in Australia, particularly in light of technological change that is leading to the migration of print media to digital and online platforms;

b) The impact of this technological change on the business model that has supported the investment by traditional media organisations in quality journalism and the production of news, and how such activities can be supported, and diversity enhanced, in the changed media environment;

c) Ways of substantially strengthening the independence and effectiveness of the Australian Press Council, including in relation to on-line publications, and with particular reference to the handling of complaints;

d) Any related issues pertaining to the ability of the media to operate according to regulations and codes of practice, and in the public interest.


  1. This is the Green Party’s way of distracting us from the important debate which will scrutinise their carbon tax mission in Parliament. They’ve raised this purely and simply to intimidate people from getting involved in the carbon tax debate by implication.

  2. Are we failing to all see the reason for this inquiry? The Gillard governments’ War on News Limited is stepping up a notch, and expect vice versa to do the same after this announcement. Forever the Labor pollies are privately fuming about their treatment from the Daily Telegraph amongst others, and this is Conroy’s way of shooting barbs back at the Murdoch empire.

  3. The phone hacking only really happened in the UK, it happened for many years and News of The World was the last straw. But there hasn’t been any inkling of this sort of activity occurring in Australia at all. It’s blatantly obvious that Labor are intimidating certain media organisations, and to probably create a distraction from their other problems. Especially when this inquiry was brought about due to the phone hacking scandal.

  4. Seems like Conroy is dead-set on framing this inquiry based on a set of false premises…

    “Australia needs to ensure that the news media continues to serve the public interest in the digital age.”

    “Continues”? Try “should start”. Much of the media, particularly the print media, replaced “serving the public interest” with “blatant manipulation of the public interest” sometime the 80’s, if not earlier.

    “… ensure regulatory processes and industry structures are sufficiently strong to support the continuation of a healthy and independent media …”

    Again with that word, Senator. I do not think it means what you think it means…

    Let alone the fact that we don’t have a healthy and independent print media – we have an extremely lopsided near-duopoly. One side produces the so-called national paper of record, major papers in every capital city, giveaway commuter papers in every capital city, local papers everywhere, and localised websites to go with each of those. The other side produces the leading newspapers in Sydney and Melbourne, and websites with localised news for a couple of others. Beyond that, there’s a few relative independents trying to eke out a living producing local papers – but that’s pretty much it.

  5. So the Labor party led by Conroy has proved to be even more gutless than the Howard government, rewarding free to air broadcasters with licence fee reductions, leaving ACMA as a toothless tiger and limiting this inquiry. It really is a sad joke for the consumer.

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