Power Play and Politics in the Media

Rupert Murdoch in the Times building 1979

Rupert Murdoch in the Times building 1979

“11 of the 12 major Newspapers are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation or John Fairfax Holding.”

How often do you sit down in the morning with a paper and a cup of coffee. Do you chill out of an evening on the couch in front of the Television. How much thought have you put into who controls what goes into those publications.

Media ownership in Australia is controlled by only a few Media Giants the biggest of which is News Corporation; owned by Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch owns around 70% of Print Media in Australia and globally he has standings in a large percentage of British tabloid press and the American company Fox network.

In Australia alone “11 of the 12 Major Newspapers are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation or John Fairfax Holdings…. in fact News Corporation owns a huge 8 of those 12 and many regional publications besides” (David Donovan for Independent Australia.net, 2012)

In television the picture is scarcely better as Gina Rinehart, one of the countries wealthiest Mining Magnates has recently seen fit to buy her way into the picture now owning majority shares in Fairfax Media as well as significant shares in Channel Ten.

Rupert Murdoch's Empire

Rupert Murdoch’s Empire

SO WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Australian Media ownership is one of the most concentrated in the Western World. With less voices and independent sources to receive our news, and current affairs, it would seem that we may be getting a very one sided view of affairs.

Rupert Murdoch is a very powerful voice in Australian media. He is also a political conservative who is not afraid to get involved in what he allows his editors have published in his papers. If Murdoch chooses to support a political party then that party has the support of a large segment of the Australian press. A very powerful weapon when it comes to election time. Since the time Margaret Thatcher sought his support in the election that made her Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1980’s, many politicians have sought to do the same. The Bulletin editor Gary Linell described Murdoch as

“Close to being the most powerful unelected person on earth”

This kind of power has the ability to change how we think about the world, what gets reported and what gets left out of the news. A Survey by Roy Morgan Research cited that the consolidation of Media in Australia is “having a Negative affect on reporting integrity.”

Which brings us to Gina Rinehart and why her recent Media takeover is important. Gina’s takeover came about after Labor proposed the now infamous Mining Taxes. The Mining companies have since been publicly running a misinformation campaign about the taxes. However what better way to have control over what the Media might say about a campaign than to own the media. Now Gina has achieved this she has some editorial control on what is allowed to air on these privately owned commercial channels. Here is a brief overview of Rinehart.

With fewer voices in the Media the public have fewer choices and opinions from which to make informed political decisions. This conglomeration of Media ownership is leading to a less viable democracy. If the public are ill informed and the media biased, we can hardly hold ourselves up as a democratic example to the rest of the world. The media voices in this country are predominantly self interested and conservative, this means the reporting on commercial television of Labor policies is minimal and often negative, and that of of the Liberal party and Tony Abbott is overwhelmingly positive, with many mixed messages and uninformed statements brushed past and underreported. Is it any wonder that the current poles show Labor are set to lose the September Election.

A fair democracy requires diversity of the press, and while many commentators will point to online sources, ACMA research shows that

“most people still rely on traditional media sources for the news and current affairs.”

While we look on aghast at countries like China, North Korea and Russia and their restricted access to the world news and the misinformation campaigns run by Governments, perhaps it’s best to reflect on our own state of affairs first.

Further Reading:

http://www.independentaustralia.net/2011/philosophy/democracy/concentrated-media-ownership-a-crisis-for-democracy/

http://lib.oup.com.au/he/media_journalism/bainbridge2e/bainbridge1e_case06.pdf

Advertisements
This entry was posted in BCM 110. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s