Our media has been tamed by corporate interests. Like the Coalition it is the handmaiden of these corporate interests.
There could not be a more obvious example of this than the handouts to our three monopoly media companies in the new media code. To those that have more will be given.
In this and following articles I will be describing how our corporate media is failing us time and time again. As a result, our democracy is under increasing threat
A parliamentary petition signed by more than 500,000 Australians is a clear sign of public concern about our corporate media that increasingly sides with capital and conservative interests, and which is dominated by News Corporation, Nine Entertainment and Seven West media.
These three companies have now persuaded the Morrison government that a tax should be levied on their competitors, Google and Facebook, and paid to them. They proclaim the importance of markets but at every step along the way, they resort to twisting the arm of governments and regulators to fix results in their favour.
Josh Frydenberg is now their hero. As a thank you, he is now being touted as our next Prime Minister. Paul Kelly in The Australian tells us that Frydenberg led an ‘epic negotiation’, he was ‘irrepressible’. This craven stuff is sickening.
Our three craven, old media companies will receive 90% of the $125 million from Google. We can expect a similar deal with Facebook but based on a smaller amount.
There will be some crumbs leftover for the ABC and a few others.
Only marginal consideration is given to support for smaller and independent media which offer the best prospect for improving the quality and diversity of media in Australia like RenewEconomy, Inside Story, Michael West Media and regional newspapers.
How much of this money will really go to support quality journalism or will much of it go to wealthy but powerful shareholders in the big three monopoly media companies?
In all this, there is no transparency and no accountability.
A tax on Google and Facebook should be distributed at arms length from the government by an independent body according to public criteria that serve the public interest and in particular the promotion of diversity in the media and quality journalism. Not a cent should be handed over to our corrupt and failed big three media companies.
But what is the ALP doing in voting for this new media code? Or the Greens for that matter? Are they all so frightened of Rupert Murdoch and the tame, well-paid stenographer-journalists he employs?
We also thought the ACCC was concerned about media monopoly and the way our media has been debased by the big three. To say nothing of the appalling abuse of market power of companies like Facebook which facilitate wide-scale interference in elections.
There are countless ways in which the big three media companies have failed us.
White man’s colonial media
Anyone looking at our media from outside would assume that our media runs branch offices of our imperial rulers, first in London and now in Washington and New York. So much of our news and views are derived from UK and UK sources. They continue to influence and condition the way we think and act.
The nature of our dependent media was laid down 200 years ago and not much has changed.
When cutbacks in our overseas journalists occur, it is invariably cutbacks in our own region and we hang on to the cushy jobs in London and Washington. No wonder we get a surfeit of ‘news’ about Donald Trump and the British royal family. What about reliable news from China and Indonesia that is really important for our future?
With media representation in our own region so scanty it is not surprising that the Australian community is ignorant of our own region. That ignorance gives an opportunity for unscrupulous governments and some journalists to promote fear about the unknown. We are seeing that now particularly in the media hysteria over China.
With News Corp dominating 70% of our print market in metropolitan Australia, it is not surprising that with its denial of climate change, like Big Tobacco over tobacco smoking, we are lagging in sensible and vital national leadership to scale down the impending climate crisis. Murdoch argues that the science is not conclusive on climate change when in fact we know that the science is clear and overwhelming. Our planet is in peril but our media is absorbed in the antics of some Coalition mavericks.
Having failed to honestly and professionally cover the impending crisis in climate warming, the media seeks to shift responsibility from the Liberal and National parties by asserting that the whole political debate on climate change is confusing and that all parties are responsible. The Rudd government introduced a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme which was defeated in the Senate by the Coalition and the Greens with the support of the Murdoch media. The Gillard government introduced and passed a Carbon Tax. This tax operated effectively for a couple of years but was then repealed by the Coalition with the furious support of the media.
The media increasingly attempts to create confusion and blames all politicians for the dangerous state in which we are now placed. The last effort has been to make a hero out of Joel Fitzgibbon with his nonsense about climate change. It is a common media tactic to shift the debate to the ALP when the government is in trouble. Phillip Coorey in the Australian Financial Review is a past master at this.
In future articles I will be examining media failures in one field after another-Iraq and the human consequences including terrorism, the failed war on drugs, ‘stopping the boats’, the NBN, aged care, quarantine, the hysteria over China and a lot more.
It is a very sorry story of failure by our tamed media.