In the Australian media landscape, Fairfax and News Corp own 11 of the 12 capital city newspapers. Fairfax also owns numerous regional newspapers including Newcastle Herald and our very own Illawarra Mercury.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has control over many Australian newspapers, including The Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Courier-Mail. His son Lachlan Murdoch has shares in Nova, Network Ten and various other media outlets. American beat poet Allen Ginsberg famously said “whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture”. I believe this to be particularly true when talking about Australian media. Not just culture, but also control of politics.
Rupert Murdoch has come under scrutiny many times for using his power to influence politics. Tucker 2013 cites “Numerous reports say that in the 1972 federal elections Murdoch used his newspapers to support Gough Whitlam and the Australian Labor Party. By 1975 he had turned against Whitlam over concessions for a mining operation and his request to be appointed High Commissioner to the UK”.
Tucker 2013 also mentions, “Murdoch’s newspapers and other Australian media became hostile towards Labor around the time of its parliamentary Caucus voting Julia Gillard into the role of leader and Prime Minister in 2010. Gillard introduced a carbon price as a first step towards a carbon trading scheme. Murdoch advocates investment in non-renewable energy sources and is a climate change denier”. If Australia had a more diverse media, it would mean that media moguls like Rupert Murdoch would be less likely to have influence over politics and the electoral process.
It is important to note that two of Australia’s major news outlets, the ABC and SBS, are owned by the federal government. The ABC has legislation which specifies it must maintain an independent national broadcasting service. It is prohibited from broadcasting advertisements during news programs to ensure it maintains independent of commercial interests. The SBS has a similar act which requires the board to maintain independence and integrity of the organisation. The fact that both these organisations are owned by the government, but legislation does not give the government power to control content or editorial policy, is a relaxing thought. The reach of the ABC and SBS is not limited to television; they also control radio stations and online news sites which have the potential to reach millions on a daily basis.
Tucker, B. 2013. Truth in News Media. Available at: https://truthinmediaresourcecentre.wordpress.com/tag/australian-news-media-ownership/. [Accessed 01 April 16].