Government secures media reform deal in the Senate

The media industry is set to go through a series of mergers and acquisitions after the Federal Government struck a deal with Senate powerbroker Nick Xenophon last night to scrap longstanding controls on media ownership. 

The breakthrough means the changes, including scrapping the controversial “two-out-of-three rule”, preventing a company from controlling more than two of the three traditional segments of the media — radio, television and newspapers — in one market, will be passed by the Senate today.

The changes also including getting rid of the 75 per cent reach rule, which prevents Nine Entertainment, Seven West Media and the Ten Network from owning their regional affiliates. That rule has until now restricted a TV network broadcasting to more than 75 per cent of the population.

After a day of furious negotiations, Senator Xenephon secured concessions from the government including an innovation fund of $50 million over three years for regional and small publishers, whose turnover is between $300,000 and $30 million a year, as well as journalism scholarships in regional Australia and subsidised journalism cadetships.

The deal with the Nick Xenephon Team comes after the one the government had secured with One Nation in August, which would have ABC and SBS staff salaries of more than $200,000 revealed for the public and a requirement for “fair and balanced” coverage inserted into their charters. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will conduct an inquiry into Google, Facebook and the other Internet giants in light of their impact on advertising revenue now challenging the commercial viability of media organisations.



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