In the past year, there have been two reviews of Australia’s media. The Finkelstein Inquiry, as we have written, was announced in September 2011 and published in late February. The inquiry called for a “News Media Council” to replace the Australian Press Council and to have authorities to require apologies or other action from news outlets.
And more recently, the Convergence Review, an “independent review established by the Australian Government” in December 2010 co-written by Glen Boreham, Malcolm Long and Louise McElvogue, was published April 30. (See the report in full here.) The report is a “174-page document outlines recommendations for the new Australian media landscape drawn from more than 340 written submissions and 28,000 comments from a consultation programme across the country,” according to News.com.au.
See here our 2011 report on the Australian press council’s submissions to both the Finkelstein Inquiry and the Convergence Review.
In a post for the Sydney Morning Herald, Convergence Review co-author Louise McElvogue summarized some of the results of the review including calls for “a media that is accountable for content standards … and in protecting children from harmful content,” diverse media ownership regulation of media companies instead of “one form of media” and regulation of “companies that deal in professional content” as opposed to citizen content.
For regulatory bodies, the Convergence Review recommended “two new regulatory bodies” — one for “content standards outside of news and commentary” and one for “standards related to news and commentary,” according to News.com.au.
As ABC’s Media Watch explained, the report calls for the first body to handle “matters like media diversity, Australian content quotes, and classification of audio-visual content, whether it’s distributed free-to-air, on broadband, or online.” The second body would “enforce a media code” for standards in reporting.
Media Watch added that the “Convergence Review recommendations follow very closely the suggestions that the Press Council made in its submissions.”
Response to the Report
We wrote to the Australian Press Council to ask what it thinks of the review and were sent this press release from the Press Council about the report.
The Press Council’s chairman, Julian Disney, is quoted as saying that the council “welcomes” the review because its “proposals are very similar to the phased changes recommended by the Press Council in its submission to the review.” For example, the council wrote that the review wants the Australian press council to “strengthen its scope and effectiveness” and expand to “cover all media” while remaining independent of media and government.
SmartCompany.com.au reported that the review hasn’t been entirely embraced by outlets like Foxtel and News Limited. News Limited’s CEO, Kim Williams, for example, is quoted as identifying “at least four primary, serious flaws” like ” heavy-handed regulation, new regulations, increasing regulation and excluding some ‘powerful companies’ from regulation – most likely Facebook and Google.”
Media Access Australia’s Alex Varley in a post for ABC.net.au argued that the Convergence Review “fails to address accessibility issues for people with disabilities,” like people who are “deaf and hearing-impaired” or blind.
Hat Tip: JournLaw