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Asian trade and the Australian media



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MEDIA

ALEXANDER DOWNER —

The Australian media is partly responsible for Australia’s poor trade performance in Asia because its limited coverage of Asian political and social developments consolidates the cultural ignorance of Australian business executives of Asia, the Shadow Minister for Trade, Alexander Downer, said today.

Speaking to a group of business chief executives in Sydney, Mr Downer said that Asia was still an alien place for most Australian business people and this sense of alienation was partly due to a lack of information about Asia transmitted through the media.

Mr Downer said, "Although some newspapers cover Asian affairs in their international sections, television coverage is very limited.

"Every business executive in Australia would know who Britain's opposition leader is and when its election is due; they would all know the names of some of the Democrat candidates for the US Presidency - although they may not be able to pronounce Tsongas -and would all know about Mike Tyson's conviction.

"But how many could name Japan's opposition leader, or explain the state of politics in Thailand, and the who and when of the Suharto succession and so on."

Mr Downer said that a recent survey by the London-based International Institute of Communications showed that on 19 November last year - just a week after the Dili massacre - only 10 per cent Of Australian television news stories came from Asia (excluding Japan) and two per cent came from Japan.

Of the rest, 20 per cent came from West Europe (i.e., not Yugoslavia or the CIS), 19 per cent came from the Middle East (hardly Australia's doorstep but well served by American T.V. networks which on-sell to Australia) and 14 per cent from North America. 56 per cent of news was locally based.

"Interestingly the West European T.V. stations ran nearly the same amount of Asian news as did the Australians.

"One night's figures don't prove a whole argument but they give a guide to media priorities."

Mr Downer said Australian T.V. stations and newspapers ought to sink more resources into regional news in order to help Australians understand what is going on around them and to help them come to terms with their region.

ends. Sydney, 19 February 1992.

Member fo r Mayo, Shadow Minister fo r Ttitde & Trade Negotiations

ASIAN TRADE AND THE AUSTRALIAN MEDIA

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