Minister to look at media reform, anti-siphoning list.


Newly-installed Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, has given interviews to both News Corp and Fairfax in which he comments on media ownership laws and the anti-siphoning list.

Indicating he has “a natural disposition towards reducing regulation and towards increasing competition” he suggests media reform would be driven by consensus -but not necessarily the unanimity that marked the Abbott government.

“There’s consensus and there’s unanimity. They are two separate things. Unanimity is everyone agreeing on everything, which is highly unlikely. Broad consensus is a different threshold,” he said.

“In terms of the media laws, it’s a bit like when people were talking in years gone by about how we can change railway gauges to better improve long-distance transport at a time when planes are starting to fly overhead.”

Mr Fifield said he would consult widely with industry and work with his cabinet and party-room colleagues, as well as work with the crossbench and the Senate if any changes are proposed.

While he has not yet formed a view on the anti-siphoning list, he will be taking another look at the sports events on the list.

“As a government, we absolutely support the general principle that nationally significant events should remain available on free-to-air,” he said.

But he said he was “not flagging a change at this stage.”

TV Licence fees are also still under review.







  1. “The idea that Cabinet can only do exactly what the PM’s head of dept says is a relatively new phenomenon that began with Rudd.”

    Touchingly naïve. It ignores the fact that the same thing was said about Morris & Sinodinos during the Howard years, or even Kemp during the Fraser years…

    But the minister’s statements are nothing more than the usual ‘new broom’ posturing. ‘New, fresh’ PM + ‘new, fresh’ ministers = ‘new, fresh government that owes little to the old failed one, and is taking a new, fresh look at what _really_ matters to Australians’. In other words, the tired old windows are getting some new curtains…

    • Alas, unless the community television sector can work collaboratively as it did when first seeking digital spectrum it is unlikely that things will change. The sector’s main opponents of course are in the Communications Department.

  2. Sorry Pertinax. Nice description of Westminster theory but even the all powerful Richo did what Bob Hawke told him to. Richard Alston, Helen Coonan and others all bowed to John Howard’s instructions. When media mogals want action (or not) they go straight to the PM.

  3. seems like a lot of gibberish, he is trying to make it seem as if he understand peoples concerns, but at the end of the days he says there wont be any changes

  4. No Communications Minister in my lifetime has ever been allowed to make critical decisions about media policy. That’s the prerogative of the PM. Given Malcolm Turnbull was previously the Communications Minister I doubt things will change!

    • Actually no. Under the Westminster system ministers are responsible for their depts and important decisions are voted on by Cabinet. The idea that Cabinet can only do exactly what the PM’s head of dept says is a relatively new phenomenon that began with Rudd.

      Fifield is just stating his position, which is the same as Turnbull’s (why Turnbull appointed him).

      Abbott vetoed media reform until everyone agreed so that he was sure that he could exploit it to his political advantage and nobody could attack him on the issue.

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