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More media competition in SA? Bring it on

Opinion

Healthier competition in the South Australian media market will be good for everyone, writes InDaily publisher Paul Hamra.

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I’ve been asked on a number of occasions recently to make a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and its various inquiries into competition in the media sector.

Why? Because InDaily and its owner, Solstice Media, is one of the only truly, locally-owned independents left who can provide an alternative, albeit small, voice.

Regulators and legislators know that, like education, media is important. So they want to know what we think before they make any final rulings.

Firstly, there was the inquiry into WA Newspapers’ proposed and subsequent acquisition of News Corp’s Sunday paper in Perth. They wanted to know what we thought of concentration in that market to one newspaper owner. Doh!

Then there was the inquiry into the impact of Google and Facebook on local media businesses. The jury is still out on this one.

And, this week, the ACCC wanted to know what we think of the proposed Channel Nine/Fairfax merger, as part of their assessment of market impact.

Well surprise, surprise, I’m concerned about media concentration in Australia, particularly as it applies to South Australia. I want to see more healthy competition.

Like everyone, I want to see a vibrant local media industry. Yes, I want to see The Advertiser thrive and employ more journalists. I want to see more funding and local programming for the ABC in South Australia. I want bigger local TV newsrooms. I want The Adelaide Review to grow. I want to see more sprouting websites like GlamAdelaide and ShitAdelaide.

I just want more, because more healthy media competition is good for all of us – the industry, its audience and its advertisers.

So, I’ve decided to stop complaining and do something about it.

We’re going to compete. Stronger.

As an aside, I don’t know why when the chips are down – and they pretty much are for media in South Australia – we can’t rally together like the wine industry does, and all work to grow the media sector in our home town for the greater good.

Everybody wins from competition – it creates more jobs, more media, more readers and a better-informed community. Importantly, we get better politicians, better governance and better democracy.

But the big media doesn’t like competition because they fear it will erode their size and, in the media world, size is power and size is profit. So, they complain about competition.

More so, they try to kill competition instead of thinking about how we can all grow the media pie – get more readers, get younger people to care and engage with quality journalism over social media, and generally get people to switch on rather than off.

So, we’re going to do our bit and rev up our competition in an effort to improve our local industry.

We’re going to try to become bigger and grow the South Australian audience on the basis that the media industry will win in the long run.

We plan to compete for that audience on the standard of our journalism, our quality products, our focus on local issues and a business model that supports our local community – where advertising and donor dollars spent in our media stay in our local market, supporting the local employment of journalists and keeping our local voices alive.

To that end, InDaily has purchased the highly successful SALIFE and CityMag brands – two extraordinarily popular local publications which service two completely different markets, but still provide local, quality independent journalism for their readers.

SALIFE is a top-shelf magazine, showcasing the very best Adelaide and South Australia has to offer. It has defied the downturn in magazine sales because it services its community with the highest quality information.

CityMag is the voice of the city. It has been the champion of change for younger people using the CBD.

Between us, we have 28 staff.

Together, InDaily, SALIFE and CityMag reach 300,000 readers each month. As a local media company, we hope to start to punch above our weight and provide real competition in the local media landscape.

So in this very hard-to-deliver but important industry, I ask you to support our growing collective of local media to deliver quality independent journalism in South Australia. Read InDaily, buy SALIFE or pick up CityMag. We will inform you in a way others don’t.

We will tell different stories you won’t read elsewhere, or we might tell you something you didn’t know and even before anyone else does.

So, if that’s competition. Bring it on.

Paul Hamra is the managing director of Solstice Media – publisher of InDaily, SALIFE and CityMag.

We value local independent journalism. We hope you do too.

InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to become an InDaily supporter.

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