Thursday, March 16

Once again Australia protects and promotes media barons

While my Mac was dead, the Australian government released its plans for fostering the continued lack of development of new media.

Alan Kohler in the Sydney Morning Herald (subscription) absolutely nailed it in his analysis, highlighting how the government's media policy runs entirely counter to its free market approach to restructuring the rest of industry and the economy:

It has been obvious for some time that the Howard Government would render the media unique among Australian industries in this age of competition: this industry would be allowed to consolidate to enjoy greater market power and cost savings, while retaining its protection from new competitors. And so it has turned out. Why? Err, because it's unique, of course - owned, as it is, by . . . um . . . unique individuals.

Unique individuals indeed. This is the government that has broken the union's monopoly on labour, broken up and sold key public infrastructure, and generally done everything it could to loosen up the wheels of commerce. It might even have to break the AWB's monopoly on exporting wheat, despite the cost to the Coalition's rural support base.

But somehow, the unique individuals who own Australia's media not only get to be protected from competition in existing and new media until 2012, they get to further consolidate their monopolies from now on. And then John Howard drops a clear pointer that the competition in 2013 won't be quite as competitive as you'd expect: he wants the ABC to get more commercial but he's not about to threaten the unique individuals' hold on the television advertiser's budget. That might threaten his re-election chances...

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