May 8, 2003 · Lessig
An Australian sent me this interesting rant about “deregulation” of the media:
You might like to bring your readers’ attention to the state of the
media in Australia.
Our government has already gone down the path of creeping
“deregulation”. Brisbane, the city I live in, now has only one daily
newspaper – Murdoch’s “Courier-Mail”. Interestingly enough Queensland
Newspapers (which is The Courier-Mail and some regional weekly
advertising newspapers) is the company Murdoch plundered during some of
his cash-flow problems a number of years ago. He was never called to
account by any regulatory body to answer for the fact that QNP employee
pension money that went missing for many months.
Once media concentration is allowed to creep past a certain point you
are in trouble. The media owners can push for more concentration due to
the fact that they control public opinion via TV and print media.
They got their present media concentration allowances by promising
politicians “more balanced reporting in the future”. Everyone knew they
abused the power they had, but the politicians sold the general public
on the belief they could safely trade MORE power for promises of reduced
Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer are a media duopoly with very close
business ties that ensure that casino, cable-TV, digital spectrum and
broadband operation licenses all go to them. Competitors are removed or
regulated out of the market by politicians who have pressure applied
from the press – owned by these two astute businessmen.
Now that they own a great percentage of media they can, and do, use this
to finish off their quality competitors with their inferior but
ubiquitous newspapers, radio stations and TV stations. Kerry Packer’s
“ninemsn.com.au” partnership with Microsoft ensures that the country’s
PCs roll out with ninemsn.com.au as the default page in their web
browser, thus extending Packer’s reach. Murdich and Packer now own the
rights to all major football codes in Australia, plus cricket and
It is a nightmare. Newsworthy events either have to advertise with the
duopoly or risk only negative publicity. If it bleeds, it leads. Be it
red ink or red blood. Financial disaster or human tragedy are your only
hope of making the papers unless you pay or are owned by Packer, Murdoch
or Fairfax in which case your miracle arthritis cure gets front-page
If you want to show people what will happen with “deregulation” study
the Australian experience.