Why does it matter who controls the media? People who are in control of Australia’s largest media organisations such as Rupert Murdoch have the power to spread their opinions thoroughly across Australia right? But we don’t have to listen or oblige to these opinions – Australia today is a lot different than Nazi Germany during Hitler’s reign.
Television and newspapers are the primary ways we access our news. Five companies own most of Australia’s newspapers across city and country (APC 2006), which demonstrates how all these different sources of news connect back to a small group of significantly powerful owners. Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd is the biggest, controlling 70 per cent of metropolitan newspapers and 23 per cent of the regional dailies (Communications Law Centre 2005).
A select list of speciﬁc News Corporation operations illustrates more starkly the extent of media power Rupert Murdoch wields: National Geographic, Fox Broadcasting Company, The Herald Sun, The New York Post, donna hay magazine, Myspace.com, HarperCollins Publishers, the National Rugby League, Thomas the Tank Engine and The Simpsons (Hart 2008 p.400)
In fact, in 2006 Murdoch was names the most influential Australian, even more so than politicians, sports stars, doctors, activists and scientists. He definitely does control what we see in the news, which is what raises concerns for “biased news sources”. It is argued that he shifts where the public are shifting, however his recent Liberal support has caused controversy as News Corp.’s “attacks these days are much more sledgehammer brutal and unscrupulous than before” (Menadue; Fickling 2013). A good example of this is Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph headline “KICK THIS MOB OUT”, demonstrating his political bias against the Rudd Labor party.
More than 37 per cent had been instructed to ‘toe the commercial line’, and 16.3 per cent had been instructed to ‘take into account their employer’s political position’ (MEAA 2006). This demonstrates the editorial policies of media companies back either the owner’s pure decision – similar to a dictatorship – and more exclusively what the public thinks, to “tell the people what they want to hear”.
Contemporarily, the internet and social media platforms are being increasingly used to access news, and allows the public to give feedback through comments and tweets, which eases the tension of how biased sources are, whilst allowing editors to gain insight on public views to take side of when publishing.
Large media corporation owners definitely do have the power to influence the public, which means it DOES matter who holds this ownership, as their opinions may vary and cause the public to change their opinion also. But it isn’t as intense as it seems – people obviously have the right to their own opinions.
Communications Law Centre (2005). Communication Update
Australian Press Council (2006). State of the Print Media. Sydney: Australian Press Council.
The Media Muzzled: Australia’s 2006 Press Freedom Report. Sydney: Media
Entertainment and Arts Alliance.
Fickling, “Rudd Sees Bias as Murdoch-Owned Media Dominate Australia Readers” 2013, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-27/rudd-sees-bias-as-murdoch-owned-media-dominate-australia-readers.html
Hart, “Media Ownership” 2008 http://lib.oup.com.au/he/media_journalism/bainbridge2e/bainbridge1e_case06.pdf p.400 – 408