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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 3750

Mr MACPHEE —My question is directed to the Minister for Communications. Will the Government's decision on the ownership and control of television result in a more rapid aggregation of viewing areas than was foreshadowed by the Minister last week? Will the result be that all Australia's commercial television stations could be owned by four or five corporations, instead of the present situation where 22 corporations are involved?

Mr DUFFY —The first part of the question is a matter which involves a certain amount of conjecture. I would not have thought that the relaxed ownership and control rules would necessarily move towards quicker aggregation than was anticipated because that will depend on market forces. There may be a lot of potential buyers, but how many sellers there will be is not known at this stage.

In relation to the proposal that there would be a lesser number of players in television in Australia, I think it is worth noting that for a long while we have really had four major players in television-the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, the Fairfax group, the Packer group and the Murdoch group. I find it intriguing that there seems to be some conjecture that because of the proposals currently under discussion by the Government there is some likelihood that only certain people will be able to expand in the television area. When one looks at the players who are now sitting at around 13 per cent and 15 per cent-that is the Bond group and the Bell group-I would have thought, and again it is a matter of conjecture, that they were likely to expand considerably. Therefore, I would have thought that rather than have four major players in television, which has been tolerated through years and years of conservative governments, we were more likely to move to five or six major players. As I said earlier, that is a matter of conjecture and something that I suppose will have to be worked out by market forces in the longer term.