#ausyralia Rinehart raid should trigger action on #media ownership laws – WA Senator

Rinehart raid should trigger action on media ownership laws–WA Senator
Media Release: Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, Wednesday, February 1st, 2012.

Gina Rinehart’s $192m share raid on Fairfax Media presents a major challenge for the Federal Government and must be a catalyst for serious reform of cross media ownership laws, the Australian Greens said this morning.

“This sharpens the importance of the work of the Convergence Review and the Finkelstein media inquiry,” said Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam.

“In a healthy media market with wide diversity of ownership, it matters much less when mining billionaires buy media assets with the clear intention of influencing the political debate. In a market as highly concentrated as Australia’s, however, it matters a great deal.

“Media organisations are not poker chips to be shunted around the table in the service of particular industry sectors. In a functioning democracy, the media must play a role critical to the rights and wellbeing of the public by operating independently of powerful vested interests both private and government.

“The founder of Mrs Rinehart’s company Hancock Prospecting, her father Lang Hancock, wrote that the power of governments ‘could be broken by obtaining control of the media and then educating the public’. There is a difference between holding governments to account while striving for objectivity – which is a vital public service – and seeking to break the authority of a government by running a propaganda campaign against it.”

Senator Ludlam said the substantive issue at stake was not Mrs Rinehart’s personal world view, but the ability of a small handful of people to monopolise Australia’s mass media under the current laws.

“No one should be banned from investing in the media because of their beliefs. What is at issue is the concentration of media ownership, which amounts to a dangerous concentration of power in the hands of very few people.”

Media Contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302

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