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.

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

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.

PHOTO: AAP

CHANGE: News Corp Aus­trala­sia ex­ec­u­tive chair Michael Miller.

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