Senate to hold media diversity inquiry
Petition over media diversity leads to an inquiry, but not everybody is convinced it will uncover anything new.
A Senate inquiry into media diversity will examine the dominance of News Corp and its impact on democracy, following a petition by former prime minister Kevin Rudd.
Guardian Australia reports Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young won support for the inquiry yesterday following the popularity of Rudd’s petition for a royal commission into the Murdoch media.
Former PMs Kevin Rudd, Malcolm Turnbull, News Corp Australia’s editors and commercial executives, independent and regional and rural editors, will all be called to give evidence.
On Monday’s Q&A Turnbull unleashed on The Australian’s editor-at-large Paul Kelly over bushfire news coverage but a News Corp spokesperson has since defended media reportage and described his accusation as “blatantly untrue“.
Nine chairman Peter Costello today said, “If we’re called upon to give any evidence of course we will. The chances of anything new coming out of it I would rate as very low. We also think the move by former prime ministers to inquire ….. says as much about them as it does about the medium.”
He added, “The media is scrutinised every single day, there are multiple every day (from) multiple outlets who scrutinise each other.
“I rate the probability very low.”
The Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance however welcomed the inquiry as an opportunity to address many of the issues confronting public interest journalism, including the role of digital platforms, the changing circumstances forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the dramatic decline in media revenues, and the impact of social media platforms.
“There is great disquiet in the community about the state of our media which has been heightened by the reliance on accurate and independent public interest journalism during the bushfires and COVID-19,” said MEAA Media Federal President Marcus Strom.
“This inquiry is timely and we hope it will be the start of rebuilding trust around public interest journalism.
“At present we are suffering a narrow ownership base, a crisis of integrity with the public and a weak regulatory environment.
“The financial crisis – accelerated by COVID – has further reduced diversity in media ownership. And it has further reduced the resources available to adequately fund a robust, independent media landscape.
“This has produced immense workplace stress on our members who are dedicated to reporting news in the public interest. Alongside this is a heightened hyperpartisanship that is undermining public confidence in journalism.
“The Senate must consider these matters in its review and we look forward to contributing.”