The Role of the Media in Australia
Osborne and Lewis state that [a] preeminent theme in Australian thinking about the use of communication is the extent to which it has been viewed as a form of control. There has been concern in recent times of the enormous power communication holds as an agent of societal control. This is due to a number of factors, such the media mogul dominated media, which promotes a very conservative view and does not allow for alternate opinions to be voiced. The wide-reaching capabilities of the media, particularly electronic media via the Internet allows for the influence to spread across the entire country to remote areas and therefore heightens a sense of societal control. Although there have also been calls for harsher and more defined regulations to be set down on the media industry in light of its influence, the concepts of free speech and censorship have existed ever since the introduction of the mass media. With the current trends in Australia moving towards "an essentially corporatised system of public communication" , concerns about the extent to which media and communication controls society will continue to be of relevance in Australia.
The very basis for Australia, that is colonialism and settling a new land, formed the foundation for the media of the nation. In 1803, The Sydney Gazette, a government publication, became the first Australian newspaper to be circulated in the colony. It dealt with legal news, farming news and other areas of interest for the colonisers. Of course, it was aimed only at educated white colonials and not indigenous people or convicts. Despite starting as a government controlled newspaper, by 1824, the year that The Australian was started, all government ownership of the press has ceased and private owners were involved. This was a sign of things to come and is the root of current problems with dominant ownership of the press. Although by 1923 there were twenty-six metropolitan dailies owned by twenty-one proprietors, this balanced industry was not to remain and by 1983 there were only three major owners in the press industry. In 2001, two major media companies dominate the Australian press -- NewsLtd, and Fairfax. A government controlled media is not possible in a democratic society, however a media industry controlled by media moguls with widespread influence is hardly a better option, and results in a greater and more centralised control over society.
The 'media-mogul' dominated industry presents enormous problems and certainly contributes to the fear of controlling power held by the media. The fact that one person, family or company could control the majority of newspaper media that is being fed to society is consistent with the growing fear of social control. Rupert Murdoch, and his company NewsCorp, currently owns more than half of the newspaper industry in Australia, as well as about one-third of British newspapers. He also has film, TV, newspaper and publishing...