:: Friday, 20 June 2003 ::
Ken Parish posts 6 paragraphs on the topic of proposed changes to media ownership laws in Oz and they go like this:
1. The laws might change.
2. If they do it will be a devastating blow to the future of democracy in Oz.
3. If Packer K and Murdoch R die, who knows what will happen.
4. No one else has laws like this.
5. It is crazy and frightening because it is inevitable the media will be owned by one person or maybe two.
6. When you put it all together the ongoing campaign to 'gut' the ABC is important because if it succeeds at the same time as this media laws are changed, there will be no democracy in Oz.
He actually types these words:
"Does anyone seriously think that an Australia where citizens' ability to exercise democratic freedom of speech is totally controlled by 2 billionaires (or even worse by 2 foreign mega-corporations) is in the public interest? Australia would have ceased to be a liberal democracy in any meaningful sense."
What a patronising and loaded question.
Oz Citizens' ability to speak - and be spoken to - the democratic freedom of speech referred to - has never been and is not controlled by media or media owners. Media is a mere part of that speech. Oz citizens consume that media and engage in a discourse about it. And who owns the media is a freakin' irrelevance to me and my thoughts and just about everybody else. Some Canadian guy? Do not care. Some former Oz guy now American citizen? Could not give a stuff. Some Brit tabloider? Not interested. My eyes and ears are firmly on the content. End of story. If one bloke on the whole planet was the employer of every single journalist on the planet, there would still be a variety of views getting published. Know why? Cos there's a variety of consumers and they are not sheep and they wanna consume different stuff. And the guy is in the game to make money and that means selling the variety to the consumers who want it.
Ken must think Italy is not a functioning democracy, after all Berlusconi owns an awful of media. (You knew I was gonna here.)
Get. Far. Away.
It functions beautifully, and there is robust discourse going on which is more often contrary to Berlusconi's own views and that of his party, meaning it is contrary to its owners' (one of 'em, anyway - it's not like he's resonsible for signing cheques) views at the same time. Incredibile, eh? Who knew Italians could walk and talk and think for themselves at the same time when nearly all the media is wrapped up for them in one man's hands?
I did. Ken does not, though. On his reasoning he's gotta think: Poor little Italians. Got no democracy no more. Aw.
Democracy does not end if media ownership is concentrated in commercial hands (and before you start whining about Berlusconi's role in government, the media interests are owned by companies - so we are not in danger any time soon of finding a friggin' Saddam-like Rome, where govt is media is govt, so don't argue) and to imagine it does is absurd, I reckon.
Jeez. The hysteria, the false reasoning.
The main game is to make sure governments do not get there hands on majority media ownership. Cos they make the laws too. And that's a lousy mix. Cos they can legislate that government is the only media that is allowed to be consumed.
Commercial interests are not the problem. And opening up the media to competitive commercial interests is a great way to keep government permanently uncompetitive and therefore unlikely to get control of media.
And as for 'no one else has these laws' - the last refuge of the scoundrel without an argument. Change is not per se bad. Difference is not per se bad.
:: WB 7:56 pm [link+] ::