Sydney PEN International is extremely concerned about the future of Australia’s media landscape.
The Coalition government's repeated attacks on the ABC and the recent merger of Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media threaten the diversity and independence of the country's media.
The Liberal Party’s Federal Council’s vote to privatise the ABC (already suffering savage funding cuts), and persistent attacks on the public broadcaster from politicians and News Corp, mean a weakened ABC. Yet all reliable research concludes that there is massive public support for the ABC.
The Turnbull government’s changes to media legislation in 2017 made the Nine/Fairfax merger possible by sweeping away existing limitations on companies operating television broadcasting, radio broadcasting or newspaper publishing in the same region.
Assurances by Nine that there will be no interference in the publications of the former Fairfax media are not reassuring, given the potential for influence from Nine’s advertisers and the network’s markedly different approach to news and current affairs reporting. With the disappearance of the Fairfax mastheads, another independent voice is lost.
Governments must recognise that a democratic nation needs more voices, not fewer, if it is to maintain a healthy media environment.