As I sit down with my EasyMac dinner and a glass of $5 wine (so big I really should just stick a straw in the bottle) to relax and watch TV on a friday night, I realise that A. I have no life and B. my I.Q. is seriously getting a nap here. As a matter of fact, my housemate and I don’t actually have a TV hooked up to free to air… And we are not even the slightest bit bothered by this. Our hard drives, numerous TV series and disney movie collection gets us through the hard times, every time. I am almost 98% certain this separation from mainstream TV time stems from a hatred of the bias, and the unintelligible waffle that occurs on the major channels of Australian TV. Flicking from show to show, it is the same boring drivel. Home and Away is confused with Neighbours 100% of the time, and I can’t take any show with Tracy Grimshaw on it seriously.
So I guess you are wondering, why is my aversion to mainstream Australian TV channels and newspapers so relevant to this blog post? Because it shows that sometimes a healthy disinclination to follow mindlessly the information spread by the owners of these media outlets is ok. Who are these owners? Let me tell you something about Australia’s media ‘diversity’. We don’t own our media, none of us even have a chance unless we are miraculously attracted to James Packer or adopted by Rupert Murdoch to just drop dead one day and they leave everything to you. As a matter of fact, Australian media is dominated by the main media moguls – Rupert Murdoch (The Herald Sun, created FOX Broadcasting Company in 1986, the News and Sunday Mail, The Daily Telegraph and The Courier-Mail, NewsCorp) and his son Lachlan Murdoch (Nova, Network Ten, 93.7FM and FiveAA, non-executive Co-Chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox), Fairfax (The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, a few smaller regional newspapers and radio stations including 2UE) and Kerry Stokes (Seven, The West Australian and WAFM). Media diversity in Australia is incredibly limited. Australia actually has one of the highest concentrations of media ownership in the world as explained in “Australia report” by Ian McAllister in 2011. These people are part of the 1% and they own the media.
Does it really matter who owns the media? Yes, yes it does. It matters a lot. The media is such an influential part of day to day life. The ability to reach out to millions of people means that the information being broadcast whether through newspapers, news websites or nightly newscasts can sway ideologies and opinions. Media diversity is important for democratic processes, political influence, community voice, corporate accountability, political accountability and decision making. One main issue pertaining to the diversity of media control is definitely the political influence. It is said, and proven, that Rupert Murdoch can sway and influence the outcome of say, a national election. In the 2013 federal election between Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd, there is no denying on who’s side Rupert was on. He himself being a anti-monarchist, Christian and with seemingly right wing interests, he inserts his opinions of political candidates with really only whom would create a better outcome for himself, rather than the country.
It is said that Murdoch, even though he is technically an American citizen now, has never really relinquished his wish to control the Australian public with his political values. This does indeed make him seem like a comic book villain… But really, where is the lie?
All in all, it is incredibly important to know who indeed controls your media. The risk of falling into the trap of ill-informed and dilapidated journalism is too high without first looking at other avenues for information. Critical thinking needs to be engaged when playing with ‘the big boys’ of media. In history this is a proven ideology, in fact the Frankfurt School in Germany during 1937 coined the term ‘the critical theory of society’ which was introduced by the director of the institute Max Horkheimer. He and his colleague Theodor Adorno wrote about the media and popular culture and used the critical theory as a way to reveal what is wrong with society, how to change it and what has contributed to the erosion of out critical thinking. They established that mass media, and what was being produced had a direct correlation to society and its problems.
So in all, as you watch your TV shows, your 6pm ‘news’ feeds, and your “A Current Affairs”, all I ask is for you to keep your minds open to what you’re actually being told. Keep an open mind.
- SBS Ricardo Goncalves . 2013. Factbox: Who owns what in the Australian media. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2012/06/22/factbox-who-owns-what-australian-media. [Accessed 10 April 15].
- McAllister, I., Wilkins, R. and Croissant, A. 2011, Sustainable Government Indicators 2011 – Australia Report, Bertelsmann Stiftung
- Brett Lamb. 2013. Australian Media Ownership. [ONLINE] Available at: http://lessonbucket.com/vce-media/unit-2/australian-media/australian-media-ownership/. [Accessed 10 April 15]
- Nicholas Joll. 2010. Contemporary Metaphilosophy. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.iep.utm.edu/con-meta/#SH4b. [Accessed 10 April 15].
- Pusey, M, & McCutcheon, M 2011, ‘FROM THE MEDIA MOGULS TO THE MONEY MEN? MEDIA CONCENTRATION IN AUSTRALIA’, Media International Australia (8/1/07-current), no. 140, pp. 22-34.