New media regulator 'unlikely' before poll
Market watch top headlines
CANBERRA, Feb 25 AAP
February 25 2013, 2:38PM
The Australian Greens say the federal government is likely to run out of time to introduce major media reforms, including a large regulator for the sector, ahead of the election.
The Labor government is so far playing down expectations cabinet will discuss a proposed package of measures when it meets in Canberra on Monday evening.
At issue are a code of ethics for journalists, a tort of privacy, increased Australian content rules and changes to media ownership in a single market.
Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam said he had discussed some of the planned reforms with Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.
But Senator Ludlam said it was very unlikely a converged media regulator would be established before the federal election on September 14.
"That's just going to be far too complex, and we have run out of time for that," he told reporters in Canberra.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard agreed the government was still to respond to the two media reviews handed to the government in the first half of 2010, but offered no timeframe.
"When we've got something to say about it we will," she told reporters in Canberra.
However, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon warned the government against implementing new media laws in an election year.
"Any government that wants to change media laws at this stage would have more than a death wish," he said.
Under existing laws, media moguls are restricted to control of two out of three media platforms including commercial television, radio or newspapers.
Senator Conroy was reportedly to ask cabinet to change this restriction to "two out of four", adding pay TV to the list.
Greens leader Christine Milne said she had contacted the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) about whether News Limited had breached the concentration of ownership rule after broadcaster Ten Network appointed top News executive Hamish McLennan as its new boss on Friday.
Senator Milne said she had previously written to ACMA about News Limited's influence on Channel Ten through network chairman, Lachlan Murdoch, who sits on the News Corporation board and has a private investment in the network.
"You now have a situation where you have News Limited having influence in newspapers, in television and of course in radio," she told reporters in Canberra.
The Greens leader said the government should seriously investigate the concentration of ownership and influence in the media.
The Finkelstein inquiry recommended statutory regulation of print and online news as it believed industry self-regulation had been inadequate, while the Convergence Review also looked at media ownership and content regulation.
Among the convergence review's recommendations was a public interest test for prospective media owners to protect diversity.
But the government is expected to scrap plans for a fit and proper person test for newspaper owners and broadcasters.
The independent inquiry was created to look at print and online media regulation and the operation of the Australian Press Council following the UK phone hacking scandal that engulfed News Corporation publications in 2011.
By Ed Logue