Australia is pushing ahead with reviews on media standards and looking at the convergence of the media and telecommunications markets.

But New Zealand is sticking to an unregulated market some believe benefits Sky TV, limits new players and restricts choice for consumers.

Across the Tasman, the Labour Government is reviewing the rapid merging of media and telecommunications as part of digitisation.

The New Zealand Government is resisting calls from telcos and the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand for the unregulated broadcasting market - dominated by Sky - to be merged with the regulated one for telecommunications.


Last week Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy advanced the Labour Party's regulatory framework with another push that is likely to be challenged by media.

He announced a media review that includes proposals to incorporate regulation of newspapers into a body that oversees all media. Newspapers are currently self regulating.

In this country there were shadows of this joint state-funded regulator approach in a similar scheme announced by the New Zealand Government at the end of May.

The self-regulating and self-funding Press Council was told - without warning - that it should look at co-operation with the self-regulating Advertising Standards Authority and the Government's Broadcasting Standards Authority. After a negative reaction, Finlayson backtracked.

But Finlayson's office said he still wanted the Press Council involved in talks. The Government would "work with the Broadcasting Standards Authority, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Press Council and the Office of Film and Literature Classification to look at opportunities for greater collaboration", it said.

The regulatory push across the Tasman has sent alarm bells ringing among media because it has been accompanied by strong criticism alleging political bias by newspapers - mainly from the political left.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation owns 70 per cent of Australian newspapers and there has long been criticism about its political influence.

In this country News Corporation no longer has news media interests. But it owns a 43 per cent controlling stake in Sky TV. Sky is involved in its own battle against regulation.


With the advent of ultra-fast broadband and internet television, organisations like TelstraClear and TUANZ argue that the unregulated broadcasting and regulated telecommunications market should be converged. That move would end Sky's charmed position dominating an unregulated market.