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Safeguard : mind media moguls more with stronger TPA.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Andrew Murray Democrats Senator for Western Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Taxation, Finance & Corporate Affairs

Dated: 13 July 2006

Press Release Number: gtkqclbs Portfolio: Taxation, Finance & Corporate Affairs Related: Communications

More from Senator Andrew Murray on Taxation, Finance & Corporate Affairs

Safeguard : Mind Media Moguls More with Stronger TPA

In responding to the Federal Governments New Media Framework for Australia announced today, the Australian Democrats said the Party recognised media reform was necessary to embrace new technology and a changing market, but the crucial issue remains media power, and how to address that. Media reform has to safeguard society against the misuse of great media power. Any relations between media moguls and political parties or politicians have to be watched like hawks, said Senator Andrew Murray, Democrats Corporate Affairs spokesperson. It is pointless for the Government or Parliament trying to choose favourites. Media competition regulation must be under laws that apply to all corporations, enforced without fear or favour by the regulator ACCC. The key to accepting any new media package which upsets the balance of power is to focus on competition and diversity, and how it is safeguarded. Our Trade Practices Act is weak. Diversity can be maintained through competition, but only if the TPA is strengthened. Section 46 must be strengthened and divestiture provisions must be introduced for this to work. The flip side to law which facilitates mergers and acquisitions is anti-trust law that enforces divestiture by the over-mighty. Because media is still a controlled sensitive market the ACCC needs stronger regulatory powers, specific to media and telecommunications, and the power to regulate both the content and the pipes that deliver it, to achieve that. The package fails to acknowledge the pivotal role of the telecommunications industry in the provision of media content and access in the future, and that is a big hole that should have been addressed. The new media framework proposes to reduce legislative regulation, but leave discretionary power and the final decision on more foreign ownership to the Treasurer.So political parties depend on favourable media to help them win or keep Government, and the proposal is to let a politician do a foreign media owner a big financial favour! I dont think so. Partisan politicians should have nothing whatsoever to do with new entrant or commercial regulatory decisions that benefit media," Senator Murray concluded.