How do you form your opinions? How much of what you view is true?
We are all influenced by the media, whether it be in print, television or online form. Unfortunately, not everything we hear is true, and a considerable percentage is strongly biased to favour one side of the argument. Who creates this bias? Those that own and control the various media corporations!
International media mogul Rupert Murdoch owns upwards of 15 print publications throughout the western world. These include popular newspapers such as The Australian, Daily Telegraph, The Courier-Mail and Herald-Sun. Not to mention his investments in television channels such as Fox and BSkyB. That’s a lot of media influence, is it not? When you stop to think that Murdoch has the power to leach his views into each and every one of these broadcasters, the sheer reach of his empire is phenomenal.
So why does it matter who owns the media?
Although we may not retain all the information broadcast by the media, certain snippets remain in the subconscious, facilitating the formation of viewpoints. The stance portrayed by media corporations reflects the ideologies of those in control, which in turn impacts our understanding of world events. Basically, entrepreneurs such as Murdoch can use their editorial control to skew representation in their favour.
A diverse, autonomous media is deemed as central to an effective democracy, yet Australia’s media environment is one of the most condensed in the Western World. This large percentage of ownership in the hands of a minority is dangerous. Print and broadcasting companies can develop a particular political sway and either favour or disfavour a political party or politician in the eyes of the public. Our concentrated media situation gives these companies the viewership of countless Australians, over whom they can assert reasonable control; shaping our political environment.
Current broadcasting laws challenge the overall power of these corporations, however with reforms looming this may be set to change. The ‘reach rule’ prohibits TV networks from broadcasting to more than 75% of the population. This ensures that one network cannot deliver information to the whole of Australia, and allows a variety of viewpoints. The 2/3 rule bans media proprietors from governing a newspaper, television and radio station in the same market. Scrapping the 2/3 rule is the more controversial change because of media diversity concerns.
Taking all of this into account, it is important to view the news from an educated perspective. Appreciate that media owners have a considerable influence over what is portrayed, and make informed decisions based on information from a variety of sources. Personally, I engage in a number of forms, from social media to newspapers, in the hopes of gaining a comprehensive understanding of the world around me.
- Sydney Morning Herald. 2016. “Media reform: Turnbull cabinet approves new laws.” Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/media-reform-turnbull-cabinet-approves-new-laws-paving-way-for-mergers-and-acquisitions-20160222-gn0t56.html. [Accessed 14 March 16].
- Australian Government Department of Communications. 2016. Updating Australia’s Media Laws. [ONLINE] Available: https://www.communications.gov.au/what-we-do/television/media/updating-australias-media-laws