Australian mass media is concentrated into the hands of a very small number of owners. For example, 11 of the 12 major newspapers in Australia are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation or John Fairfax Holdings. In fact, Murdoch bestrides the Australian media landscape like a colossus — NewsCorp owns 8 of that 12, and also dominate the regional and suburban newspaper publishing industry, as well as owning a major slice of Foxtel (Concentrated Media Ownership, 2011).
Media ownership clearly still matters. Even in a world of a million choices, the majority of people still rely on a relatively small universe of news producers. The Australian people have less different voices to use upon which to make their decisions than almost any other place in the free world. And Rupert Murdoch is happy to wield his overwhelming power.
Numerous reports say that in the 1972 federal elections Murdoch used his newspapers to support Gough Whitlam and the Australian Labor Party. By 1975 he had turned against Whitlam over concessions for a mining operation and his request to be appointed High Commissioner to the UK. He also supported current Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd between 2007 and 2009 (Murdoch’s Media Monster, 2013). Murdoch’s newspapers and other Australian media became hostile towards Labor around the time of its parliamentary Caucus voting Julia Gillard into the role of leader and Prime Minister in 2010. Australian journalists once did not write like this. How had Australian journalism come to this?
In Australia, prominent News Corp newspaper journalists have been openly supporting federal Liberal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in a relentless campaign to bring down the national Labor government. On Channel Ten, the Sunday morning show The Bolt Report is clearly unbalanced and biased towards the Liberal Party. Ten’s Meet the Press (hosted by journalist and economist Kathryn Robinson), rarely manages to offset the bias of The Bolt Report.
The question for Australia in 2015 is how much political influence should be allowed to the US citizen Rupert Murdoch through his extensive ownership of communication outlets. It should be recognised that a casual comment in a motoring magazine, a home-maker magazine, a news bulletin, a one-on-one interview or a panel discussion can influence someone’s political thinking.
Donovan D. Concentrated Media Ownership: a crisis for democracy. Available from: <https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/concentrated-media-ownership-a-crisis-for-democracy,3259> [14 March 2011]
Tucker B. Murdoch’s Media Monster. Available from: <https://truthinmediaresourcecentre.wordpress.com/tag/australian-news-media-ownership/> [7 January 2013]