‘Dangerous monopoly’: Labor, Greens support judicial inquiry into media diversity and News Corp | australian media

Labor and Greens have recommended a judicial inquiry with the powers of a royal commission on media diversity, ownership and regulation.

“It is clear that the current regulatory framework is not suitable and that significant changes are necessary,” said the report on media diversity tabled in the Senate Thursday.

“A judicial inquiry would have the capacity to conduct a more comprehensive investigation, including compelling witnesses to testify, than a parliamentary committee can. Such an investigation would also be conducted at arm’s length from all politicians to allow for an independent investigation into media regulation and ownership.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young gained support for setting up the inquiry a year ago following the popularity of Kevin Rudd’s petition for a royal commission on the Murdoch media.

The former Labor Prime Minister’s petition for a royal commission on the need for a strong and diverse media was supported by 501,876 people.

The committee heard that media regulation was not effective and inconsistent governance arrangements, band standards across all platforms made it impractical: television is governed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, a government agency , and print and digital news from the Australian Press Council, an independent body. regulated industrial body.

“The evidence provided to the committee testified to the failure of existing regulators to ensure that standards of fairness and accuracy are maintained and to prevent the spread of disinformation,” the majority Greens and Labor report said.

Hanson-Young said the report found the call for an investigation by more than half a million Australians who signed the petition was justified.

“The majority of the committee that undertook this 13-month investigation recommended the establishment of a judicial inquiry with the powers and leverage of a royal commission on the state of media diversity and dominance in Australia. “said Hanson Young. “This is a decision that Parliament itself can make. “

A judicial inquiry could be set up without government support, but for a bill to pass the House of Representatives, a member of the government would have to cross the room.

Hanson Young said: “The proof that Murdoch’s media empire is indeed a dangerous monopoly has been heard loud and clear. From climate denial, to partisan sexist attacks, to providing a platform for Covid’s racism and disinformation, the impact of the concentration of media ownership and a failing regulatory system was evident.

“Throughout the investigation, we heard from the many Australian journalists who produce high-quality, in-depth reporting with integrity and professionalism. It is these hard-working journalists who are left behind by a failing regulatory system and a corporate culture within news organizations that allow bad behavior to flourish. “

Murdoch Global Managing Director Robert Thomson told the inquiry that the idea of ​​Rupert Murdoch influencing Australia’s elections is a “myth” and far removed from the behavior of the “real Rupert”.

Thomson rejected a suggestion by Hanson-Young that News Corp’s CEO had a role to play in guiding his editors on which party should win.

“Senator, the philosophy is around ideas,” Thomson told the media diversity inquiry via video conference from New York.

“I have to say there is Murdoch the myth … and the real Rupert.

In previous evidence, Sky News Australia denied broadcasting false information about Covid, telling the hearing that YouTube’s deletion of 23 videos from the broadcaster was “totalitarian” and lacked transparency.

Managing Director Paul Whittaker said it “now seems common to discredit any debate on contentious issues as ‘misinformation'” and has vigorously defended Sky’s right to present a range of views on treatments such as ivermectin.

In a dissenting report, Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg called the report a “shameless political coup that should not be taken seriously.”

“The committee called for this investigation two weeks after the Senate dropped an investigation into ABC’s complaints process,” Bragg said. “The report recommends that private media be subjected to the intrusions of a judicial inquiry. At the same time, the ABC should not be subject to Senate scrutiny. It’s absurd.

Bragg was behind the investigation described as “political interference” by ABC president Ita Buttrose and rejected by Labor and Greens in the Senate.

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