Labor’s media regulation

Michelle Grattan writes:

After an immensely long labour, Australian Communication Minister Stephen Conroy has produced a policy mouse with a modest roar. …

It has a number of aspects but let’s deal particularly with some core controversial ones. A “public interest test” would be invoked when mergers or acquisitions threatened to reduce diversity. A Public Interest Media Advocate would make decisions on the basis of the test.

This advocate would also ensure that bodies dealing with media standards, most notably the Australian Press Council, met certain benchmarks for credible and effective self-regulation of print and online media.

Sounds a powerful role this Public Interest Media Advocate.

Whatever one thinks of the content of the policy, its preparation and presentation has been a shambles.

It was due months ago but held up by internal argument. Now minister Conroy has presented a take-it-or-leave-it package that he says must be through Parliament by the end of next week or the Government will drop it. The actual legislation will only be presented today.

That is outrageous, especially on an issue such as this.

The public will put the Government out of its misery in six months time.

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