"Our reach is unmatched around the world... Virtually every minute of the day, in every time zone on the planet, people are watching, reading and interacting with our products. We’re reaching people from the moment they wake up until they fall asleep. We give them their morning weather and traffic reports through our television outlets around the world. We enlighten and entertain them with such newspapers as The New York Post and The Times (of London) as they have breakfast, or take the train to work. We update their stock prices and give them the world’s biggest news stories every day through such news channels as Fox or Sky News … And when they get home in the evening we’re there to entertain them with compelling first-run entertainment on FOX or the day’s biggest game on our broadcast, satellite and cable networks... Before going to bed, we give them the latest news, and then they crawl into bed with one of our best-selling novels from HarperCollins” (Rupert Murdoch cited in News Corp Annual Report, 1999, pp.13-14).


Throughout the 20th century, Australian television, radio and newspapers have all undergone various periods of change in ownership. Indeed, in recent years ownership has become highly concentrated in the hands of just a few media moguls, some of whom are foreigners. There have also been many changes in the rules and regulations that control the Australian media and the debate around reform of media ownership laws is a continuing one. The purpose of both old and new legislation is to encourage diversity in the ownership of the most influential forms of the commercial media: the daily press and free-to-air television and radio. This means preventing common ownership of newspapers, television and radio broadcasting licenses that serve the same region. The justification for the rules is that the effective functioning of a democracy requires a diverse ownership of the daily mass media to ensure that public life be reported in a fair and open manner.
In the 21st century, new trends appear to be emerging in the Australian news media. Following the 'Phone Hacking' scandal and subsequent inquiries (e.g. the Leveson Inquiry) in relation to the journalistic practices at some of Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers, Australia has also decided it is time to review journalistic practices in this country (although there are no direct links to be drawn between the timing of these two sets of inquiries). In Australia, two reports have been tabled before the government: the Finkelstein Media Inquiry and the Convergence Review and responses to these investigations have been forcefully put. We will briefly engage with these two reports in the section on regulation below. Another trend that is also emerging can be felt in the area of media ownership. With the richest person in Australia (and now the world's wealthiest woman), Gina Rinehart (of Hancock Prospecting - a mining company), holding an 18% stake in Fairfax Media (as well as a 10% stake in TV's Channel Ten), media commentators are speculating on why a mining magnate would want to invest so heavily in the Australian news media, especially since Clive Palmer (another mining magnate) has also recently taken a very keen interest in the Australian media. These issues will be discussed further in the section 'Emerging Trends in Media Ownership'.

Please note that much of the content on this page was sourced in 2010. Therefore, some of the information and market shares may have changed in the intervening years.

Ownership of the Australian Media

The bulk of the Australian media is concentrated in the hands of five major companies/providers: News Ltd., Fairfax Media, Seven Media Group, CMH (Consolidated Media Holdings) & PBL Media (Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd), and the ABC (public service broadcasting).
The following is a summary of media ownership in Australia in relation to these 5 major providers.

1 News Ltd.

Chairman: Rupert Murdoch – Born in Australia but took on US citizenship in order to build his media empire there. He also owns much of UK Press, Hong Kong Press and others around the world. News Ltd is an Australian subsidiary of News Corporation. It has interests in more than one hundred national, metropolitan, regional and suburban newspapers throughout Australia. Major Australian titles include:

The Australian
(a national Broadsheet newspaper)
The Daily Telegraph
(Tabloid in Sydney)
25 per cent stake in Foxtel
(pay TV)
AAP Information Services
(a newsagency jointly controlled with Fairfax)

Other titles held by News Ltd in Australia and the Pacific include:
//Fiji Times//, //Gold Coast Bulletin//, //Herald Sun//, //NT News//, //Post-Courier//, //Sunday Herald Sun//, //Sunday Mail//, //Sunday Tasmanian//, //Sunday Territorian// //Sunday Times//, //The Advertiser//, //The Courier-Mail//, //The Mercury//, //The Sunday Mail//, //The Sunday Telegraph//, Weekly Times, Big League , //Inside Out// , //donna hay// , //ALPHA//

2a Fairfax Media Limited

Fairfax Media Limited is one of Australia's largest media groups. As noted above, the largest single shareholder in the group today is Gina Rinehart (with an 18% stake). The company was owned and operated by the Fairfax family until December 1990.
Fairfax Media Limited lays claim to being Australasia's leading media company. In May, 2007, Fairfax Media and Rural Press Limited completed their merger, creating the largest integrated metropolitan, rural and regional, print and online digital media company in Australasia, with publications and websites in every State and the ACT in Australia, and throughout New Zealand (Corporate Profile 2009). Major Australian titles include:
The Sydney Morning Herald
(a metropolitan daily broadsheet - Sydney)
The Age
(a metropolitan daily broadsheet - Melbourne)
The Australian Financial Review
(a national financial newspaper)
The Canberra Times
(a metropolitan daily broadsheet - Canberra)

Other titles include: BRW, The Sun-Herald, and The Land

2b Fairfax Digital

Fairfax Digital also claims to be Australia's leading provider of online news and classifieds. Comprising around 30 interactive sites which reach over eight million visitors each month, Fairfax Digital provides incisive and constantly updated information on news, finance, business, IT, sport and entertainment. It features the online presence of some of Australia's most prominent brands such as smh.com.au, theage.com.au, brisbanetimes.com.au, businessday.com.au, InvestSMART, RSVP, Stayz, drive.com.au, domain.com.au, and mycareer.com.au (About Us 2010).

2c Fairfax Radio

Following the recent changes in media ownership regulation in Australia (see below), Fairfax has also taken over several leading radio stations. These include:

Talkback Radio: 2UE (Sydney), 3AW (Melbourne), 4BC (Brisbane), 6PR (Perth)
Metropolitan Music Radio: Magic 1278, 4BH Brisbane, 96fm Perth
Regional Radio: 4BU & Hitz FM Bundaberg, 5RM & Magic FM the Riverland, 5CC & Magic FM Port Lincoln, 5AU / 5CS & Magic FM Spencer Gulf

A full list of Fairfax publications can be viewed at: http://www.fxj.com.au/our-assets/FairfaxPublications&Websitesupdatedjun09.pdf

3 Seven Media Group

According to the Seven Media Group Company Profile (2010), "Seven is recognised as one of Australia's leading media companies. We are Australia's largest commercial television network. We are one of the two largest publishers of magazines in Australia. And, we are creating a significant presence in online and new communications technologies. Our television programming reaches more than nine in ten Australians every week. Our magazines business publishes one in four magazines read by Australians. And, we publish three of the most widely-read magazines in Australia. More than five million Australians engage with us online each month".

Regarding the delivery of news content, Seven makes the following claim: "We are further enhancing our reputation as a leading source of news and information for all Australians. Today, more than six million Australians watch our news programming every week. From Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise, to our news bulletins through the day - led by Seven News at 6:00pm and Today Tonight" (Television 2010).

Magazines are another major part of the Seven stable, publishing more than one in four magazines sold in Australia - including two of the three biggest selling weekly titles: New Idea and That's Life!. Across its portfolio of titles, Pacific Magazines are nudging a 30% share of overall readership, and dominating readership in key publishing categories:Seven_Mags_4.JPG
Category Leadership (2010)Seven_Mags_2.JPGSeven_Mags_1.JPG
  • Women's weeklies - 49% share of readershipSeven_Mags_3.JPG
  • Weekly celebrities - 54% share of readership
  • Real Life - 56% share of readership
  • Home and Lifestyle - 61% share of readership
  • Fashion - 50% share of readership
  • Men's Lifestyle - 42% share of readership
  • Bridal - 59% share of readership
  • Parenting - 49% share of readership
  • Youth - 43% share of readership*


Consolidated Media Holdings & PBL Media (Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd)
Executive Chairman: John Alexander, Exec. Deputy Chairman: James Packer
Consolidated Media Holdings Limited (CMH) is a media investment company, investing in key new media. CMH has a 25 per cent investment in Australia's leading subscription television business FOXTEL and a 50 per cent investment in subscription television content provider Premier Media Group, producer of leading sports channels including FOX SPORTS 1, FOX SPORTS 2 and FOX SPORTS 3 (Welcome to CMH 2010). In 2007, PBL sold 50% of its media interests to a foreign owned company called CVC Asia Pacific for which PBL received $4.585 billion. Major media publications include:

The NINE TV Network
Australian Consolidated Press
(Magazine Publisher)
25% stake in Foxtel


5 Public Broadcasting in Australia

Australia is one of the few remaining countries in the world that supports public broadcasting, funded through the tax-payer's purse. It may be even more unique in that it funds two public broadcasting stations, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). The following outlines the role that both of these services provide in the Australian media landscape.


[Chairman: Mark Scott]
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation began radio broadcasting on 1st July 1932, when the first program was introduced by Prime Minister Joseph Lyons. According to the ABC Charter (1983), the functions of the Corporation are:
(a) to provide within Australia innovative and comprehensive broadcasting services of a high standard as part of the Australian broadcasting system consisting of national, commercial and community sectors and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, to provide:
  • (i) broadcasting programs that contribute to a sense of national identity and inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of, the Australian community; andABC_Radio.JPG
  • (ii) broadcasting programs of an educational nature;
(b) to transmit to countries outside Australia broadcasting programs of news, current affairs, entertainment and cultural enrichment that will:
  • (i) encourage awareness of Australia and an international understanding of Australian attitudes on world affairs; and
  • (ii) enable Australian citizens living or travelling outside Australia to obtain information about Australian affairs and Australian attitudes on world affairs; and
(c) to encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia.

RADIO: The ABC has four national radio networks— ABC Radio National, ABC Classic FM, triple j and ABC NewsRadio—as well as 60 Local Radio stations around Australia, and three internet music-based services, dig, dig jazz and dig country.

TELEVISION: ABC1 is a national service with State and Territory news breakouts. It is available nationally in analog and on free-to-air digital and subscription television platforms.
ABC2 is a digital-only television service, available on free-to-air and subscription platforms. iView (abc.net.au/iview) is a free internet-only television-on-demand service providing a range of programs.
ABC3 is a new digital children's channel.

ONLINE: The ABC Online website provides nearly five million pages, including content available via streaming, podcasting, vodcasting and video-on-demand and content uniquely designed for broadband delivery.

New in 2010 (on Digital TV): ABC News 24 - Australia’s first free-to-air, 24-hour digital news service – started broadcasting at 7.30pm AEST, Thursday 22nd July 2010, right across the country.


[Chairman: Joseph Skrzynski]
{Managing Director: Michael Ebeid]
SBS, the first multicultural public broadcaster in the world, began broadcasting during the 1970s under the Fraser Government. It was seen as 'a key piece of public infrastructure to support one of Australia's greatest social experiments: the transformation from a white European nation to a multicultural, partly Asian, society' (Simons 2011: 40). It was, at that time, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser's belief that 'with leadership, education and encouragement, Australian's could overcome the fear of the stranger, and be the better for it' (Simons 2011: 40).
In the early 1990s, SBS took on the even more unique position for a public broadcaster, by allowing advertising on the station. This was initially strictly limited to appearing between shows. However, in 2006, advertisements were introduced into the middle of shows.
Despite receiving both government funding and commercial income, SBS continues to struggle. It stands a turning point in history. On the one hand, there is huge potential in digital broadcasting that will enable SBS to better cater for its multicultural audience. On the other, there is the prospect of a merger between the ABC and SBS. The 2012 budget will be a key moment in deciding this fate.

SBS currently provides a radio network in 68 languages, two television channels, two dedicated digital music channels - SBS Chill and SBS PopAsia - its online website (recording more than 1 million unique browsers per month) and two commercial subscription television channels, STVDIO and the World Movies Channel, which specialise in arts programming (Our Story: SBS Corporate 2011).

SBS Charter

The SBS Charter, provided in the SBS Act, sets out the principal functions of SBS and a number of duties it has to fulfil. The Charter, contained in Section 6 of the Special Broadcasting Services Act 1991, states:
(1) The principal function of SBS is to provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia's multicultural society.
(2) SBS, in performing its principal function, must:
(a) contribute to meeting the communications needs of Australia's multicultural society, including ethnic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; and
(b) increase awareness of the contribution of a diversity of cultures to the continuing development of Australian society; and
(c) promote understanding and acceptance of the cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity of the Australian people; and
(d) contribute to the retention and continuing development of language and other cultural skills; and
(e) as far as practicable, inform, educate and entertain Australians in their preferred languages; and
(f) make use of Australia's diverse creative resources; and
(g) contribute to the overall diversity of Australian television and radio services, particularly taking into account the contribution of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the community broadcasting sector; and
(h) contribute to extending the range of Australian television and radio services, and reflect the changing nature of Australian society, by presenting many points of view and using innovative forms of expression.

Emerging Trends in Media Ownership

Australia is no stranger to having mining magnates take a personal interest in media ownership. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Lang Hancock (Gina Rinehart's father) established weekly newspapers in Western Australia ( the Sunday Independent in 1969 and the National Miner in 1974). While neither of them lasted very long, Nick Bryant (2012, p. 30) explains the reasoning behind these two ventures: Lang 'wanted clout, and saw his papers as an investment in the education of his fellow Western Australians'. The recent acquisitions of shares in TV's Channel Ten and Fairfax Media by Hancock's daughter, Gina, are also explained by Bryant as being motivated by a similar desire for 'influence and respect' (2012, p. 31). Rinehart already has a seat on the board at Channel Ten, and is pushing to get the same at Fairfax, although she is being met by strong opposition from the current Chairman Roger Corbett. If she succeeds, she will be backed by the fearsome combination of climate skeptics and influential media commentators. With Christopher Monckton advocating the 'Foxification' of the Australian news media, fun times may indeed lie ahead.

Regulation of the Australian Media


There are both broadcasting and commercial controls in place to oversee the operation of the Australian media. Broadcasting legislation falls under the umbrella of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and is available for download here. Other Acts concerning the monitoring of public service broadcasting and licencing include: the Radiocommunications Act 1992, Special Broadcasting Services Act 1991, Australian Broadcasting Services Act 1991, Radio Licence Fees Act 1964 and the Television Licence Fees Act 1964.
Commercial legislation fall under the auspices of the two main Corporation's power Acts the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act (FATA) 1975 and the Trade Practices Act (TPA) 1974.

Briefly here, the objects of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 include among others:
(a) to promote the availability to audiences throughout Australia of a diverse range of radio and television services offering entertainment, education and information; and
(aa) to promote the availability to audiences and users throughout Australia of a diverse range of datacasting services; and
(b) to provide a regulatory environment that will facilitate the development of a broadcasting industry in Australia that is efficient, competitive and responsive to audience needs; and
(ba) to provide a regulatory environment that will facilitate the development of a datacasting industry in Australia that is efficient, competitive and responsive to audience and user needs; and
(c) to encourage diversity in control of the more influential broadcasting services; and
(e) to promote the role of broadcasting services in developing and reflecting a sense of Australian identity, character and cultural diversity; and
(ea) to promote the availability to audiences throughout Australia of television and radio programs about matters of local significance; and
(f) to promote the provision of high quality and innovative programming by providers of broadcasting services; and
(fa) to promote the provision of high quality and innovative content by providers of datacasting services; and
(g) to encourage providers of commercial and community broadcasting services to be responsive to the need for a fair and accurate coverage of matters of public interest and for an appropriate coverage of matters of local significance... (BSA 2010, pp.1-2)


Both FATA and TPA are administered by the federal Treasurer who is assisted in managing both Acts by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The Commonwealth Attorney-General (AG) also plays a role in regulating the print media. The AG has the legal authority to rate and classify all imported films, DVDs and computer games, a task which is delegated to the Classification Board within the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC).

The key government body responsible for the administration of the BSA and other legislation specifically directed at the media is the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). This body commenced operation in July 2005, having subsumed the functions of the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) and the Australian Communications Authority (ACA).

The regulation of the Australian media underwent significant change in April 2007 resulting in the lifting of the restrictions on both foreign and cross-media ownership. A 'two out of three' rule was introduced to allow companies to own up to two media outlets (TV, radio and newspaper) in a single area. Further details on these changes can be accessed at the following links: New Media Framework for Australia Media Ownership Regulation in Australia.

The Australian media also exercises a certain level of self-regulation, especially in relation the maintenance of ethical standards. Self-regulation comes in the form of codes of ethics and codes of practice. The MEAA (Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance) is responsible for overseeing the ethical conduct of the media. Their preamble states:
Respect for truth and the public's right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. Journalists describe society to itself. They convey information, ideas and opinions, a privileged role. They search, disclose, record, question, entertain, suggest and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They give a practical form to freedom of expression. Many journalists work in private enterprise, but all have these public responsibilities. They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be accountable. Accountability engenders trust. Without trust, journalists do not fulfill their public responsibilities. Alliance members engaged in journalism commit themselves to
• Honesty
• Fairness
• Independence

All full copy of the code can be viewed here.

The public service broadcaster, the ABC, has its own editorial policies and code of practice.

Media Watch

Media Watch is Australia's leading forum for media analysis and comment and is currently presented by Jonathan Holmes.
Media Watch describes itself on its homepage in the following way: "Conflicts of interest, bank backflips, deceit, misrepresentation, manipulation, plagiarism, abuse of power, technical lies and straight out fraud: Media Watch has built an unrivalled record of exposing media shenanigans since it first went to air in 1989. The media provides the information we need to make decisions about our lives, but how reliable are the media reports that shape our views of the world? Media Watch turns the spotlight onto those who literally 'make the news': the reporters, editors, sub-editors, producers, camera operators, sound recordists and photographers who claim to deliver the world to our doorsteps, radios, computers and living rooms. We also keep an eye on those who try to manipulate the media: the PR consultants, spin-doctors, lobbyists and "news makers" who set the agenda." (About Media Watch 2010)
Media Watch airs on ABC1 on Monday nights at 9.20pm and Wednesday mornings at 12.25am.

Media Watch also provides links to the codes of practice of all of the major media outlets in Australia and can be viewed here.

Links to Major Media in Australia


ABC Charter 1983, accessed 7th June 2010, <http://www.abc.net.au/corp/pubs/ABCcharter.htm>

About Media Watch 2010, accessed 13th July 2010, <http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/more.htm>

About Us 2010, accessed 24th June 2010, <http://www.fairfax.com.au/about-us.html>

Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) 2010, Part 1 - Preliminary 3 - Objects of this Act, <http://www.comlaw.gov.au/ComLaw/Legislation/ActCompilation1.nsf/0/89A00B6CC725B243CA2576F7007A35F6/$file/BroadServ1992Vol1_WD02.pdf>

Bryant, N 2012, 'What Gina whats: A magnate's quest for respect and gratitude', The Monthly, May 2012, pp. 20-32.

Company Profile 2010, accessed 24th June 2010, <http://www.sevencorporate.com.au/default.aspx?page=2>

Corporate Profile 2009, accessed 24th June 2010, <http://www.fxj.com.au/corporate-profile/corporate-profile.dot>

News Corp Annual Report 1999, accessed 2nd March 2002, <http://www.newscorp.com/report99/>

Our Story: SBS Corporate 2011, accessed 9th June 2011, <http://www.sbs.com.au/aboutus/our-story/>

Simons, M 2011, 'Sex before soccer', The Monthly, June 2011, pp. 40-44.

Television 2010, accessed 24th June 2010, <http://www.sevencorporate.com.au/default.aspx?page=9>

Welcome to CMH 2010, accessed 7th July 2010, <http://www.cmh.com.au/>