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Wednesday, 3 December 2003
Page: 23748


Mr Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 10 September 2003:

(1) Did the Minister tell the National Nine Television Network on 7 September 2003 that he intends to re-introduce the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Media Ownership) Bill 2002.

(2) Is the Minister aware that (a) News Limited is an Australian subsidiary of News Corporation that is owned and controlled by Mr Rupert Murdoch, (b) News Limited has interests in more than 100 national, regional and suburban newspapers throughout Australia, (c) News Limited has approximately two thirds of the capital city and national newspaper market, three quarters of the Sunday newspaper market, almost fifty per cent of the suburban newspaper market and almost one quarter of the regional newspaper market, (d) News Limited has a quarter stake in Foxtel's pay television and News Interactive Online, and (e) News Limited has additional media interests in AAP Information Services.

(3) Is the Minister aware that (a) Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL) is an Australian media company chaired by Mr James Packer which owns and controls the National Nine Television Network and the magazine publisher Australian Consolidated Press, (b) the largest shareholder in PBL is Mr Kerry Packer, (c) PBL owns three metropolitan television licences and one regional television licence giving it more than half of the potential audience, (d) PBL has a quarter interest in Foxtel and a third in Sky News, (e) PBL publishes more than 65 magazines and its share of the circulation of the top thirty Australian magazines is approximately 40%, and (f) PBL has a joint on-line operation known as ninemsn.

(4) Can the Minister confirm that the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Media Ownership) Bill 2002 would allow (a) Mr Kerry Packer's media companies to buy and control John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd which publishes The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Financial Review newspapers, and (b) Mr Murdoch's media companies to buy and control the Seven Television Network or the Ten Television Network, in addition to their existing media interests.

(5) Can the Minister explain how the concentration of media interests that would be allowed under the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Media Ownership) Bill 2002 is in the public interest and good for the future of Australia's democracy.


Mr Williams (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) I can confirm that Senator Alston, the former Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, made such a statement.

(2) (a) - (e) Yes, I am aware of the media interests of News Limited.

(3) (a) - (f) Yes. I am aware of the media interests of Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL).

(4) (a) - (b) I refer to part (3) of the response to Senator Murphy's Question on Notice No. 1358, tabled in the House of Representatives on 3 March 2003.

(5) I refer to part (2) of the response to Senator Murphy's Question on Notice No. 2115, tabled in the House of Representatives on 12 August 2003.