Things have been changing rapidly on the Australian media front in the last few weeks. Channel Ten has gone into voluntary administration as of Wednesday, and will be unlikely to secure the $250 million loan it needs to continue forward into the new financial year. Employees are without job security and many are jumping ship in preparation for the apparent impending job cuts.
As well as this, just last month Malcolm Turnbull’s government announced their media reform package for Australia (with “coincidentally” good timing). The package proposes support for free-to-air broadcasting companies by abolishing licensing fees and allowing them the first chance to buy the rights to sporting events. The package will also abolish the “outdated” two-out-of-three ownership rule (restricting a company from owning all three radio, television and newspaper broadcasting channels in an area) and the 75% audience reach rule (restricting any one company from reaching more than 75% of the audience). This policy reform has come at an almost suspiciously good time for Channel Ten, as interested buyers such as Murdoch and Packer can now freely purchase Ten without these rules in place.
These incidents come just over a year on from my original media ownership post for BCM110, which explained the layout of Australian media owners. The infographic has been updated for this year and provides an interesting insight into the complex layout of our media system.
Moving to place Channel Ten under voluntary administration throws the future of the broadcaster into question. My cousin, who works for Channel Ten, describes it as a “high stress limbo situation” and admits that no one really knows what’s going on or what will happen in the future.
We can make predictions, of course. Most recently, Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon have formed a joint venture to save the company from going under, although it should be noted that neither have offered to purchase the company. I believe it will become a waiting game, and there is nothing we can do but sit back, watch the big players shake off the rules that have constricted them in the past and flex their muscles at this newest challenge.