Property editor of the NZ Herald

Knock-on effect of Australia media changes forecast

A shake-up of Australia's media ownership laws has been announced. Photo / APN
A shake-up of Australia's media ownership laws has been announced. Photo / APN

Prospective liberalisation of Australia's media ownership laws could spark a shakeup here, an expert says.

Gavin Ellis, a senior lecturer in media, film and television at The University of Auckland, said changes are due to go before the Australian Parliament today.

Australia's communications minister Mitch Fifield has proposed a bill which could have a knock-on effect here. If passed, that would open the way for ownership of print, TV and radio by one owner in a single market.

Currently, ownership is limited to two assets.

Although the changes have not been passed, Ellis is watching the situation closely.

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Australia's media sector shake up

"If ownership rules are liberalised in Australia, News Corp could potentially increase its holding in APN News and Media which owns NZME in New Zealand," he said referring to the business which owns The Radio Network, GrabOne and many newspaper titles including the Herald.

Media cross-ownership rules might be relaxed and already via News Corp, Rupert Murdoch has 14.9 per cent in APN.

Ellis said that could be increased.

"Do you think he has that and that's all he wants? He doesn't work that way. Nobody does," Ellis said.

Radio in particular could be at the centre of change because it was perceived as a growth area, Ellis said.

"We're seeing that in New Zealand too. If you look at the recent market statements by APN, they're talking about radio as a growth part of the business.

It has already been reported in Australia that anticipating the changes, APN News and Media has put their regional print division, Australian Regional Media, on the market.

News Corp may be interested in acquiring a slew of daily and community newspapers in regional Queensland and NSW, and 30 online news sites, it has been reported there.

- NZ Herald

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