Labor media reforms in doubt

By a staff reporter, with AAP

The federal government's proposed media sector reforms are in doubt as Labor scrambles to secure the support of independent MPs whose votes are needed to pass the legislation.

Former Labor MP Craig Thomson, who now sits as an independent, has withdrawn his support for the legislation, while the support of other independents remains unknown.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wants the package of six bills passed by both houses by the end of next week, insisting there is no room for negotiation on them and that failing to meet that deadline will result in them not being passed at all.

However, the Senate voted not to meet the government's proposed final reporting date for a committee inquiry into the bills of March 20 and instead pushed the date out to June 17 – well beyond Mr Conroy's deadline.

The move by the coalition and the Greens to set the June 17 date comes as a direct challenge to Mr Conroy's deadline.

Liberal senator Simon Birmingham insisted that the bills, and the deadline imposed by Mr Conroy, had been “scuttled”, while fellow Liberal senator Mitch Fifield said that that Labor is “not interested at all in having serious, careful examination of the legislation”.

Also in doubt is Labor's ability to strike a committee that would be tasked with examining rules to reshape the television landscape, according to The Australian Financial Review.

Overnight, crossbenchers said they did not know who was on the committee or when it would meet, with Labor reportedly struggling to find the necessary 10 members to sit on the committee, which is supposed to hear evidence on Monday from TV chiefs about the reach rule.

Independent Rob Oakeshott denied reports he is seeking to trade his support for the reforms for unrelated legislation, adding that the media reforms are “flawed”, the AFR added.

Under the proposed reforms, a Public Interest Media Advocate would have broad powers to punish publishers if it decided that they no longer complied with undefined “community standards”, with no court appeal provision for media owners.

Media executives have widely criticised the proposed reforms. Ten Network Ltd called the process a “complete shambles”, while Seven West Media Ltd called the process a “farce”, The Australian reported.

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With the orchestrated reaction of a largely monopolised media the Government has already won. The monopolies have made the point which would not have had such great credibility had it only been a Government "claim" The media Empires pursued the wrong target, legislation they could have easily coped with, and through their reaction put the real issue on the agenda and in clear view of the electorate. It has demonstrated that it views with one eye and not through the mode of diversity It doesn't really matter which way the legislation goes now - the vital point has been made that the media in Australia through its monopolisation has become a contender for political power of itself. That is something no democracy can tolerate. Diversity must return and the media as a whole regain effective neutrality in political battles that belong elsewhere.
To Phil Clarke, would this also apply to the media wing of the ALP/Greens, the ABC?
Since I said "largely" - yes the article would apply. If I had said "totally" it would not
The undefined "community standards", who's standards are they, ours, or Conroy's. Pleased to see some backbone displayed by the Independents, and the greens for a change. But in saying that I wouldn't trust Oakeshott as far as I kick him. Wouldn't be the first time he used his political position for personal gains in exchange for his support. The media is there to keep the public informed and options available. Some still believe the media is anti Labor, far from it. Sure they have criticised Labor on many of its policy handlings, but with just cause. The simple fact is their record in this area is not all that crash hot. Criticism of Coalition policies has occurred, some of you lefties just don't want to see it, however they are not in government, Labor is. You want the media to be honest and fair, well that exactly what they are doing, reporting actual facts, not assuming facts. Contrary to what Phil is trying to tell us, be rest assured Conroy and friends definitely want this legislation passed. This is about controlling the media. A previous commentary in this forum indicated Gillard and Labor were taking a hard left turn. Well a left turn only leads to socialism and state control of assets. Controlling the media goes a long way to ensuring we, the public, only hear what the government wants us to hear. That's why Conroy has given this desperate deadline to get this legislation through both houses. But in true dictatorial fashion he demands it be passed but has no real plan in place to follow through with the policy. Well good for the Independents, including Thomson and the Greens saying just hang on a minute, there's no detail. Don't you think we should discuss this first.