The more they own; the less you know. Part I

The media landscape in Australia is quite an array of varying television channels, newspapers, magazines and radio stations all with their own distinctive styles of print, opinion and branding. However, despite these differences, would it shock you if I were to tell you that for a country of 24 million people, roughly 3 dynasties rule the Australian media landscape? That these 3, MurdochPacker and Fairfax are not necessarily competitors, rather they are co-operators, working steadily together to maintain their steady triopoly over the lucrative market.

For the BCM332 case study, I shall examine and report on the fort emprise that sadly befalls our national media landscape, as part of the overall purpose of examining global inequality in regards to media ownership, and the impact it has. In this first of two parts, I shall give a rundown on the ownership of Australia’s media scene.

In a 2012 interview with the online news site, The Conversation, former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser stated;

“In my term, there were seven print proprietors. Now there is one and a bit. We have the most concentrated media in any democratic country, anywhere in the entire damn world. That is dangerous.”

Fraser is not exaggerating. The duopoly over our newspapers is shared between Murdoch’s News Corp Australia and the cross-tasman corporation Fairfax MediaNews Corp has an extensive grasp on not only the Australian publication market, with the likes of The Daily Telegraph and The Australian, it too has extensive investments in Foxtel and Fox Sports. Such ownership gives News Corp the control over Australia’s sole cable channel, which it shares with Telstra. Fairfax meanwhile has investments in publications such as The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review; as well as streaming services such as Stan to combat foreign powerhouse Netflix, and it too has part-ownership of radio stations like 2GB with Macquarie Radio Network. Such power does not necessarily result financial fortune, as Fairfax continues to battle to remain profitable,and in March this year, announced heavy job cuts which resulted in a 4-day strike.

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In 1991, former Prime Ministers Gough Whitlam, (left) and Malcolm Fraser teamed up to protest the possibility of Victorian newspaper

Our privately-owned television networks consolidate together more often than they compete. Take for example Channel 10, which has investments and thus influence from the following;

  • Gina Rinehart (past investments include Fairfax Media)
  • Lachlan Murdoch
  • James Packer
  • Bruce Gordon (Largest shareholder and controller of WIN Corporation, which reaches 5 million Australians.)

Channel 7 is owned by Kerry Stokes through his Seven Group, which besides having significant mining interests also has investments in Yahoo7, Sky News and Australia’s largest magazine publisher, Pacific Magazines, which circulates Men’s Health, Better Homes and Gardens and New Idea.

australian-channels

The array of free-to-air channels in Australia. Try and match who owns what.

Channel 9, who belongs to parent company Nine Entertainment Corporation, however is not owned by a single Australian individual or group, it rather is owned by CVC Asia Pacific, a multinational equity firm that has major investments through other media corporations around the globe. However, remember the aforementioned WIN Corporation that Bruce Gordon owns? Well they too have a 14% stake in Nine Entertainment, giving Gordon sizeable power and influence. Nine Entertainment also partners with Fairfax on their 50:50 ownership of Stan, as well as having a 10% stake in Souther Cross Media Group, shared with Macquarie Radio Network who in turn partners with Fairfax. As we can see, there is more consolidating and partnering than competing amongst our major media networks, and as stated by academic Robert M. McChesney in his work Global Media, Neoliberalism and Imperialism;

“(In Australia) The situation may be stark, where the newspaper industry is largely the province of Rupert Murdoch, who also has major stakes in magazine publishing. Murdoch also controls pay television. In short, the rulers of Australian and New Zealand’s media system could squeeze into a closet.”

So where does this lead us to? How does it affect the coverage and information we receive? In the next post, I will examine the second component of this study, looking into the global consequences of our tightly controlled media industry.

References

Carson, Andrea March 25th, 2015, “Heed Frasers warning on Australian media concentration-It’s getting worse” The Conversation, accessed 8th August 2016 https://theconversation.com/heed-frasers-warning-on-australian-media-concentration-its-getting-worse-38979

Goncalves, Ricardo 22nd June 2012, “Who owns what in Australian media?”, SBS.com.au, accessed 8th August 2016 http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2012/06/22/factbox-who-owns-what-australian-media

Fraser, Malcolm July 12th, 2012 “Does it matter who owns your papers? Yes, it does”, The Conversation, accessed 9th August 2016 https://theconversation.com/malcolm-fraser-does-it-matter-who-owns-our-papers-yes-it-does-7738

McChesney, Robert September 2001 “Global Media, Neoliberalism & Imperialism” The Monthy Review, accessed 9th August 2016 http://monthlyreview.org/2001/03/01/global-media-neoliberalism-and-imperialism/

Janda, Michael 22nd December 2014, “Fairfax and Macquarie to merge radio networks”,  ABC News (Australia), accessed 10th August 2016 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-22/fairfax-macquarie-to-merge-radio-stations/5982594

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