Who really owns our media and why does it matter?
This is an important question that we must ask ourselves because if we don’t, the diversity in our current media will decline immensely. Our Australian mass media is one of the most concentrated in the world and is owned by a very small number of media companies. For example, 11 out of 12 of our Australian newspapers are owned by either News Corp (8 out of the 11) or Fairfax Holdings (3 out of 11). When one company owns such a large proportion of the Australian media industry, we can see how present and clear the danger of obstruction in our democracy is. As it stands, liberal democracy advocates private media ownership with light regulation, where this regulation is a balance between ensuring media outlets are free to express opinion and overruling certain information for the public good.
Rules and regulations are extremely important in our media culture today. They prevent common ownership of media outlets and encourage diversity of commercial media, including the daily press and free-to-air TV and radio. We have a media system in this country where ownership and regulation have been constantly changing and evolving over time, and there is a continuous debate over which system is best for our country. At present, our media is currently regulated by the ACMA, which is a statutory authority within the federal government that is responsible for regulating online content, including internet and mobile phone content, and enforcing Australia’s anti-spam law.
I feel diverse ownership of the media is important to ensure the expression of points of view are varied, which will enhance the publics access to different viewpoints, sources of news, information and commentary. However, this then leads to the question of does content diversity actually result in diverse exposure? I feel the answer is no, especially if our media is owned by the same company. We will end up watching the same content, just on a different channel or through a different medium, which gives no diversity and no expression of opinion. This is why I feel it does matter who owns our media, and it should be a range of media companies.