Aussies Loosening Ownership Rules p. 27

By: CAROL SCHLAGHECK THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT has begun writing legislation that will abolish cross-media ownership restrictions, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The paper said a spokesman for Communications Minister Richard Aiston had confirmed that the legislation was being drafted and was expected to be completed in about three weeks.
The present restrictions ? which bar single ownership of newspapers and television stations in the same market ? would be replaced by a "public interest" proviso administered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The Herald said the new regulations are likely to broadly define the media to include not only television, radio and newspapers, but also pay TV and probably the Internet.
The legislation will probably direct regulators to consider audience share before deciding on a merger but without clear statement on how to measure share, the report said.
Aiston had earlier said that the government felt the cross-media ownership ban should be abolished.
"We've made it pretty clear that we think the current crossmedia rules are outmoded and pretty arbitrary, and we'd like to change that rule and bring it more into line with normal competition rules," he said. "But we recognize that there are special characteristics of the media that make it a special case. So we're looking at how we can devise a new system that can take account of those factors."
March 22, 1997 n Editor & Publisher #


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