Veteran journalist Alex Mitchell has condemned the Turnbull government’s new media legislation, saying it represented a ‘sweeping victory’ for the major media owners.
Mitchell will be appearing at the September 27 Politics in the Pub event at the Mullum Court House with Walkley award winner Chris Graham, editor of New Matilda.
They will discuss the establishment and the role of the media.
Mitchell told The Echo, ‘The big players have been given the ability to concentrate their ownership of newspapers, television and radio in the major metropolitan markets.’
‘They have been lobbying for a multimedia monopoly for two decades and the Turnbull coalition has given it to them.
‘There will be scramble for major media assets in the next six months and I predict we will see single private owners controlling major media in our capital cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Darwin and Canberra.
‘When media plurality is diminished, and we have few voices, then it is clear that the rich and powerful steal an advantage, and accountability and transparency suffers.’
Mitchell was scathingly critical of the ‘concessions’ to Senate crossbenchers Nick Xenophon and Pauline Hanson. ‘Spin doctors from the coalition and the major media are working overtime to convince people that the new legislation is fair and reasonable when in fact it strengthens private monopoly control.
‘The $60 million fund to support small publishers is loose change when compared to the billions of dollars that the private investors and hedge funds will make from concentrating media assets and future profits.
‘Good luck to the small publishers who apply for a Xenophon grant, but I bet most of them will be allocated to loyal proprietors in National Party territory.
‘As for the official inquiry into Google and Facebook, this is more window dressing. Inquiries in Britain and the European Union (EU) have come to nothing and I don’t expect Turnbull to offend the IT giants either.
‘However, Rupert Murdoch will be celebrating the proposed inquiry into the ABC, which is part of the long-term News Ltd plan to privatise the public broadcaster.
‘It is a perfect time for journalists, editors, producers, researchers and photographers to quit their ivory towers and start campaigning for a media policy that is properly funded, fair, independent, accountable and dedicated to information, education and entertainment.’