Media changes will protect newspapers in the regions
News Corp executive chairman Michael Miller spoke to a high-powered gathering in Canberra last week, explaining why a media reform package before politicians has massive ramifications for the regions. Here’s why you should care.
IN my remarks, I want to directly address not the biggest parts of the media, but the smallest.
For our company, many of the operations that have the deepest connection to Australian communities are the newspapers in small towns, suburbs and regional cities, particularly in Queensland.
I am joined here by the editors of the Daily Mercury in Mackay, the News in Chinchilla, The Times in Gympie and the NewsMail in Bundaberg, and it is on behalf of them and those communities they passionately served as Cyclone Debbie tore through Queensland recently that I make the case for holistic media law reform.
The intent of Australia’s so outdated media laws is to protect against the loss of diversity, but in today’s world their actual impact has been speeding up the loss of local content and the loss of local jobs and the loss of community spirit.
Rather than guaranteeing more voices are heard, our current rules are guaranteeing those voices have no future channel.
For many communities, those who oppose these media changes are not preserving a choice between this newspaper or that newspaper, they are choosing a future whereby a community may have no voice at all.
To survive, regional commercial media has to be able to sell to advertisers a compelling reach and relevance story and in today’s ever competitive market that means a multi-channel and multi-platform audience.
Unconstrained by any media regulation or any community obligation, global tech giants offer that scale and reach while Australian media companies are forbidden from doing so.
A regional Australian media operation has two cards it should be able to play to counter the tech giants’ reach.
One is a better local connection and a deeper relevance across every channel in the region the media company, the advertiser and the audience all physically live in.
The second is to tap into the scale of a bigger operation to deliver effective national advertising campaigns across those same channels to those local audiences.
Both cards we are forbidden from playing. The laws as they stand damage Australian media, Australian jobs, and ultimately Australian communities.
A book our teams in Queensland recently put together, Defying Debbie, typifies the impact we have in local communities. It is about the fortitude of Queenslanders in the face of this year’s devastating cyclone. It’s both a record of a devastating event and a fundraising campaign that will send every cent to cyclone recovery efforts.
It is an example of community journalism and a reminder of the contribution beyond the daily headlines all locally based media companies make and a reason why they must be empowered to survive and thrive. It is the reason why the media reform package needs your 100% support. For the communities you represent.
MORE THAN HEADLINES: Regional newspapers play an important part in their communities.
CHANGE: News Corp Australasia executive chair Michael Miller.