Sale sparks new media reform debate
The decision by American media giant CBS to buy the Ten Network has sparked a new debate over the Turnbull Government’s media ownership reforms.
The American broadcaster announced on Monday it had entered into a binding agreement to acquire the business and assets of the troubled Australian media company.
Labor leader Bill Shorten welcomed the news, noting the government’s argument for abolishing the so-called two-out-of three rule was to save Ten.
‘‘Well, CBS has saved Channel Ten so we don’t need to tamper with media diversity laws,’’ he told reporters in Melbourne.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull defended the proposed changes, insisting the existing provisions were drafted in a pre-internet era.
‘‘We need to have media ownership laws that enable the industry to respond competitively to the threat from the internet, from companies like Netflix and Amazon and so forth,’’ the Prime Minister told reporters in the NSW Snowy Mountains.
‘‘If Channel Ten is bought by CBS, fine . . . but you have got the rest of the industry.’’
Mr Turnbull insisted the package of changes was not a Ten Network amendment agenda.
‘‘This is about ensuring the sustainability of the entire media.’’
Mr Turnbull noted newspaper companies, such as Fairfax Media, and regional broadcasters were screaming out for reforms.
By opposing the package in the Senate, Labor was guaranteeing foreign companies would advance at the expense of the Australian business, he said.
‘‘We’re standing up for Australian companies, we’re standing up for Australian jobs, and it’s about time (Mr) Shorten woke up to himself and recognised that the only beneficiaries of his opposition to media law reform are Google, Facebook, Netf lix and Amazon.
‘‘They’d be cheering Bill on, because they’d say — the more divided the Australian media sector is, the easier it is to pick them off.’’
The government is still in negotiations with the Nick Xenophon Team to secure passage of its reforms through the Senate when parliament resumes next week.