Does it really matter who owns the media? Does the ownership of media really have that much control over our lives? How does this affect us as everyday media users?
Well, to a degree, I believe it affects us. But how?
Whoever owns the media has a certain amount of control over what is shown to its audience. This affects us because what we see, hear or read is determined by the owner of that particular media form. They also have control over what is done with the media, how it is shown, when it is shown, and whether or not it is shown at all.
Take for example Fairfax and Newscorp. Together, the two news corporations, own 11 out of 12 of Australia’s capital city newspapers. It is evident from this figure that Australia’s media ownership is extremely concentrated. Fairfax and Newscorp both have a significant amount of control over our newspapers, including the information inside them. Having such a high ownership concentration considerably eliminates diversity in the media. Without diversity the issues of biased opinion, lack of variety and limited access to information can arise. This directly affects society, particularly those people who rely on newspapers as their main source of information.
The media ownership concentration in Australia is so high that it’s slightly alarming. “How is this fair?” you might ask, “is it even allowed?’. In saying that, there are actually a set of laws as a part of the Commonwealth Legislation regarding media ownership regulation in Australia. The reason the laws are put in place is to “prevent the common ownership of newspapers, television and radio broadcasting licenses that serve the same region” and to “encourage diversity in the ownership”. Even with the implementation of these laws, the media ownership still appears to be concentrated. Providing that Fairfax and Newscorp don’t own over a certain percentage of newspapers in each region, they are still by all means entitled to own 11 out of 12 of the newspapers in capital cities. It still seems very unfair to me.
In saying that, there are so many other ways to receive information these days that concentrated media ownership of newspapers isn’t that big of a problem. The technological advancements of today enable us to receive information by searching on the internet, from new applications on our phones and even on social media. So why worry about biased opinion and lack of variety in newspapers when the internet provides us with so much diversity and freedom?
Despite concentration of media ownership causing biased opinion, lack of variety and limited access to information, there are many other ways to gain information from other sources. Even though media ownership of newspapers does affect us, the internet provides us with a whole new way of obtaining important information. So should we really be worrying about just one form of media?
The choice is yours.
Commonwealth of Australia 2006, Media Ownership Regulation in Australia, Parliament of Australia, viewed 29 March 2015
Fairfax Media 2015, Fairfax Media Network, Fairfax, viewed 28 March 2015
News Limited 2015, News Corp Australia, News Limited, viewed 28 March 2015