PM not against Media Ownership Law Changes

The Prime Minister says he is open to foreign ownership of Australia’s media.

John Howard says he has always regarded cross media rules, instituted by the Hawke Government, as bad policy.

I think there was a fair amount of political payback and political bile involved in the decisions taken by the then government.

“I think with convergence and the way in which the whole media has changed, those rules are increasingly out of date.

“I don’t live in fear of foreign ownership. Equally, I don’t believe we should inhibit the capacity of our indigenous media companies to grow.”

The PM says, though, he will not go to the wall politically to get changes to media ownership laws through Parliament.

“It’s not as important for me as all the other things I’ve talked about this morning,” (while unveiling his new Ministry).

“I would like to see change, but I’m not going to perish politically in relation to this … it is not that important to me.”

The PM has declined to speculate on any of the possible takeovers which may occur among Australian media companies, if media rules are relaxed.

He has disputed that Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of any rule changes.

“I wouldn’t automatically (say they would benefit) at all. What about the possible entry of other foreign media organisations?”

He believes any changes to cross media ownership rules are interlinked to foreign ownership quotas: “It’s a package as far as I’m concerned.”