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Labor resists reform push by big media


A unified push by more than 25 media chiefs has failed to sway federal Labor into supporting planned changes to ownership laws.

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The chief executives were in Canberra on Wednesday to lobby the opposition and Senate crossbench, hoping to convince them to back government legislation.

“If the Australian media industry can come together, there’s no reason the Senate can’t,” Communications Minister Mitch Fifield told ABC TV.

“This is important for the viability of Australian media.”

Opposition communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland insists Labor is not for turning on axing the so-called two-out-of-three rule.

The rule prevents a company controlling more than two of the three media segments – radio, television and newspapers – in one market.

Rowland rejected the argument the laws need updating because of their pre-internet age origin.

“We have competition laws in Australia that were written during the 1970s but we don’t say we should abolish competition laws,” she told Sky News.

“This ain’t a holistic package, it’s a grab-bag.”

Every media outlet agreed with the reforms because there was something in it for them, Rowland said.

Fifield has refused to carve-up his package which also includes cutting broadcast licence fees, limiting gambling ads during live sports telecasts and a reduction in the number of events on the anti-siphoning list.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce urged senators to get on and pass the laws.

“Although we all might have our problems at times with sections of the fourth estate we’ve got to take the good with the bad and deal with it,” he told reporters.


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