Greens bring media ownership bill

THE Greens have moved to introduce a public interest test bill to protect media ownership diversity in light of mining magnate Gina Rinehart's increased stake in Fairfax.

This news came as the Sydney Morning Herald's publisher and editor-in-chief Peter Fray, Sydney Morning Herald editor Amanda Wilson and The Age's editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge stepped down amid newsroom restructures.

Greens leader Senator Christine Milne said that the test was necessary as changes in ownership at Fairfax could be a potential threat to editorial independence and media diversity.

"If we want to ensure that all Australians benefit from a flourishing, independent, diverse media landscape now and into the future, we have an obligation to start acting to protect that landscape," Senator Milne said.

"The public interest test for changes in media control is a sensible place to start."

Greens spokesperson on communications Senator Scott Ludlam said that there was a "real urgency" for the public interest bill, which would target nationally significant media enterprises rather than bloggers or smaller media outlets.

"(Rinehart is) one individual buying a controlling stake in a media organisation with the clear purpose of shutting down dissent against her other corporate and financial interests and deliberately stifling debate about issues of science, of fairness, of great community interest," he said.

The test would apply to media enterprises with a monthly Australian audience of 500,000 that also derived more than $50 million in revenue annually from supplying media content in Australia.

It would be administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and would be consistent with guidelines set out by the Productivity Commission in a media inquiry 12 years ago but never implemented.


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