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Panpa Bulletin : March 2012
report on media future ‘flawed’ NEWS Limited has slammed a gov- ernment report proposing a “Super Regulator”, labelling it “quite seri- ously, even deeply, flawed.” Eighty-four responses to the In- terim Report of the Convergence Review were almost unanimous in their criticism. The report says a new regulator should be established to oversee a myriad of operations, including journalism. It would set content standards and arbitrate on disputes in the newspa- per industry. This was described by this associa- tion as a “pre-emptive strike” against the Media Inquiry that ran parallel to deliberations of the Convergence Review. NPA boss Mark Hollands said he thought the report was “really disap- pointing” as this was an opportunity to express vision for the Australian economy in the digital era. Instead it presented proposals that were “quite mad, unnecessary or unworkable”. The Review had promised less regulation and more regulatory flex- ibility in a future digital economy. News Ltd says there is “no basis on which to licence or regulate media . . . which does not use public resources, is not protected from competition in the same way as licensed media and is consumed and paid for, on a discretionary basis by consumers”. The newspaper industry regulator, the Australian Press Council, favoured the recom- mendation of a single regulator but said the new body should be an independent council, not a government authority. The Press Council said such a group would have “due independ- ence from the media industry, gov- ernments, and any other particular interests”. This would strike a balance be- tween public interest and those of individuals and industry “without which the credibility of the media and the regulatory system are put at risk”. It said most employees on this body should be former media professionals – and one-third should be nominated by member publishers. No one should be appointed by government, it says. However, it says one-third of fund- ing should come from government to guarantee its future and quality of work. News Ltd’s response indicates a contrary position, saying that no change was necessary for the Press Council in terms of structure. It says the authority that has over- sight of TV and radio, the Australian Communications and Media Au- thority, “already adequately handles regulation of licensed media and implementation of consumer laws”. Fairfax Media and West Austral- ian Newspapers did not submit responses. APN News & Media says it “un- equivocally opposes any increase in the regulation of Australian newspa- pers”, and there was no evidence the current system of self-regulation had failed. “Government intervention is more likely to have a negative effect on the integrity of Australian media than to improve journalistic standards,” the company says. It says the proposal to allow com- mercial providers to redistribute news content from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – out- lined in its original submission to the Convergence Review – should be implemented. This would limit the potential for the ABC’s activities to “crowd out or excessively damage regional com- mercial services” while maintaining the public broadcaster’s unique posi- tion in regional Australia. A joint submission by digital in- dustry lobby group Australian Inter- active Media Industry Association (AIMIA) – representing the interests of Google, Telstra, Facebook, Yahoo! and nineMSN – criticises the regula- tory “one size fits all” model. The Review fails to “reflect the realities of the converging media world and doesn’t provide a strong evidence base,” AIMIA says. Recommendations would stifle innovation investment. Microsoft accuses the Review of potentially “isolating Australia within the online community”. This association and The News- paper Works submitted a joint response. It questions the values of a “new regulatory framework of content standards” which would “undermine free speech”. “This represents an attack on a free press and freedom of expression that we believe is essential to democ- racy,” said the response. NPA boss Mr Hollands said: “We have to hold the line on self-regula- tion – it is as simple as that.” He believed the work being con- ducted to improve the operations of the Australian Press Council cur- rently should not be ignored. He rejected the council’s idea of one-third funding from government, saying newspapers needed to reject such support to maintain absolute independence from those “in power and public administration whose ac- tions must be held to public scrutiny as part of how our open democratic society operates”. The Convergence Review, headed by former IBM chief executive Glen Boreham, is due to issue its final report to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy in March. australian press Council chairman Julian disney says a new regulator should have independence from the media industry and government, yet have partial state funding www.panpa.org.au GossM-600FranceDEPARTUREARRIVALGossSunday2000USAGossUnilinerFranceGossMagnumChinaGossM-800USAGossM-500USAGossCommunitySSCChinaGossUniversalFranceGossEcocoolNetherlandsbrisbaneAucklandwellingtonSydneyDunedinperthHastingsMelbourneArmidale Global strength. Local responsiveness. 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