Friday, October 13, 2006

Vale Aussie media

Vale Aussie media
(thanks to Crikey's home page today).

I'd like to add David Flint, former ABA chairman, to the list of murderous architects of Ozzie's death. Both he and Steve Fielding (in addition to Helen Coonan and the rest of the Liberal party tag-alongs) claim ownership of a newspaper doesn't affect what gets printed in the newspapers and the ownership of a TV station doesn't affect what gets screened. For example:
David Flint: Rupert Murdoch [of News Corp] is an absentee proprietor. The idea that he determines what appears in, say, The Australian, is preposterous. If he does, he must do this for every newspaper he owns. Now he does work hard – but he is not a superman... [source: Crikey mail (10/10/06)]
What fool says this – especially given Flint's level of experience in the domain! Anyone can tell it doesn't take that kind of micromanagement to filter out dissenting views. All you have to do is sack a couple of journalists who "step over the line". And as for the first Family First senator
Steve Fielding: The argument that ownership is the sole determinant of ideas is simplistic. It is a myth... [source]
Of course it's not the sole determinant – but it's still a determinant – a big one. Herman & Chomsky, in Manufacturing Consent listed ownership as the top filter of news outputted by the media in their well-known propaganda model. It is simplistic and misleading of Fielding to imply with slippery words that ownership influencing media output is a "myth".

For this, Flint and Fielding are not just "accessories to the murder" of Ozzie, but either highly unprincipled or highly unintelligent.

The interesting thing to come out of this is to ask why Steve Fielding would vote with the Liberal party on this when there would be no conceivable benefit to his constituents, but a potential detriment. Crikey writers and others publicly wondered what Steve's price was – what it was the Liberal party could have offered him. Nothing apparently, according to Fieldings chief staffer, Felicity Dargan. Dargan today wrote:
Family First did not do any deals with the government over the media changes. Why? Because Family First doesn't do deals. It is as simple as that. We have said repeatedly we won't do deals... [blah, blah, blah] least consider the possibility that a politician can look at legislation on its merits and not seek anything in return... [blah, blah, blah] ...I wonder if the journalists – and some aggrieved politicians – will ever believe it?
I don't believe it of Family First and I don't believe it of any political party. I don't believe Fielding voted for this legislation* on its merits for the simple reason that it didn't have merits – not weighing it up against Family First's published core values anyway. I think instead that Fielding judged that Family First voters wouldn't care which way he voted and that the party would be better off to avoid offence to the Liberal party where possible. Simple. But unprinicpled for a party that's supposed to be all about principles!

* I should point out that obviously the legislation was about more than just the dropping of cross-media ownership laws. Other parts of the legislation may have merit. All the same, I'm still convinced senator Fielding's decision was not based on the merits of the legislation, but a desire to offend as few of his supporters and potential allies as possible.

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Blogger Sarah said...

Family First does deals, but only where such deals won't upset their grassroots support. Of course they'll always deny it, I wouldn't expect anything else of them.

As for the assertion that ownership does not dictate content, I think there have been plenty of examples exposed by Media Watch over the years that prove otherwise.

October 13, 2006 4:51 pm  
Blogger Lisa said...

Yes, poor Media Watch though...

ABC managing director Mark Scott says: I have encouraged the Director of Television to work with the Media Watch team to review their format and content next year to ensure there is more opportunity for debate and discussion around contentious and important issues. It is a popular program, has a loyal following and I hope, a long future at the ABC.

Sounds like Media Watch is set to be dumbed down.

October 20, 2006 2:46 pm  

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