User:Fakem/Time for our very own media enquiry: Conroy

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stephen Conroy, Australia's Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
Image: Dr Ron.

Australia's Labor Party is expected to announce the terms of their upcoming media inquiry tomorrow, although it is expected to focus on privacy breaches and public complaints rather than Australia's highly concentrated media ownership.

News Limited, publisher of newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph, The Australian and the Herald Sun, control over 70% of Australia's metropolitan newspaper interests, in addition to holdings stretching across television and online mediums.

A government source was reported by the BBC as saying Labor would not lead a "get News Limited" inquiry, instead focusing on increasing the power of the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA), and ensuring a proper grievance procedure for members of the public.

The justice minister, Brendan O'Connor, also suggested the government may toughen privacy laws to allow private citizens to sue for invasion of privacy.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has slammed the inquiry as "a naked attempt to intimidate the media", insisting it is the government's "performance which is causing the problems," not Australia's highly concentrated media ownership.

Prime minister Julia Gillard said Australians were "disturbed" following accusations of phone hacking against News International in the United Kingdom, noting the company had "hard questions to answer". There remains no evidence to suggest the Australian arm, News Limited, has engaged in phone hacking.

Ms Gillard also had an unceremonious run-in with The Australian in late August when conservative commentator Glenn Milne published a piece accusing Ms Gillard of fraudulent activity. The Australian pulled the article from their website and replaced it with an apology, however Ms Gillard was reportedly "furious".

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown has publicly criticised News Limited, labelling them the "hate media", in the aftermath of the News of the World scandal.

“Information is the currency of democracy and we need a review to assess whether the media industry has been devalued," Mr Brown said, "A robust inquiry which can promote media diversity and ensure the public’s recourse when wrong behaviour occurs would serve Australia well.”

A spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told the AFP, "What's been agreed is that we're going to have an inquiry into media and media ownership,"

"The terms of reference are still being negotiated. We're going to make an announcement when we're done, but it's imminent."


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