Media of Australia

Media of Australia

Media in Australia is an important component of the Australian economy. Australian media is widely accessible and caters to a wide variety of audiences. Ninety-nine percent of Australian households have a television, and all households have at least one radio.


Public broadcasters

Two media outlets in Australia are publicly funded: the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). Both broadcast on free-to-air television, radio and online. They are both owned by the Australian Government.


New South Wales and Victoria were introduced to television in 1956, with the other states following suit up to 1971 (the Northern Territory). Colour television was introduced in 1975.[1]

In addition to the public broadcasters which are available to almost all of Australia's population, there are three major commercial television networks: the Nine Network, the Seven Network and Network Ten. Most of Australia's heavily populated cities are serviced by all three networks. Some rural or regional areas may receive a more limited selection, often with some of the channels available showing programming from more than one of the major networks. An example of such a "shared" regional network is Imparja.

Digital free-to-air broadcasts commenced on 1 January 2001. Analogue broadcasts were originally intended to be phased out by 2008, however the target has been moved to 2013

After heated debate in the early 2000s over a Bill that would have removed the foreign ownership restrictions of broadcasting TV licenses, the Australian government chose to retain the foreign-ownership restrictions in its 1992 Broadcasting Act. As such, Australia continues to disallow foreign control of a broadcasting license and limit foreign ownership of broadcasting firms to 20%. The Howard Government were set to remove this law sometime in 2007, having gained parliamentary approval to change the legislation in 2006, however the Howard Government was removed from power in 2007.

Pay TV

Approximately 25% of Australian households had access to pay television services by the end of 2005. The main operators are Foxtel and Optus in metropolitan areas, and Austar in regional and rural areas. Smaller operators include Selectv and UBI World TV.


There are 2 national and 10 state/territory daily newspapers, 37 regional dailies and 470 other regional and suburban newspapers. All major newspapers are owned either by News Limited, a subsidiary of News Corporation, or Fairfax Media. The only national daily newspaper is The Australian, other notable newspapers are The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph, The Age, The Herald Sun (Melbourne) and the most prominent financial newspaper, The Australian Financial Review. There are a few popular independent news sources, including online news source Crikey.

Of 1600 magazines published in Australia, 30 have circulations of more than 80 000, including women's interest, general interest, television, home and garden, leisure and current affairs titles.


Australia's first regular radio broadcasts began on 13 November 1923 with station 2SB (later to become 2BL) in Sydney. The ABC began broadcasting in 1932. [1] Talkback radio was first broadcast with 3AW in Melbourne, 1967. ABC began experimenting with FM stations in the 1960s, but it wasn't until July 1980 did the first FM station commence full operations. Melbourne-based 3EON (now known as 3MMM)[2] was the first to air.

Currently there are 274 operational commercial stations (funded by advertising) and 341 community (publicly funded) radio stations[3].


Regulation of the media in Australia is limited to a narrow range of specific areas. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is the broadcasting regulator for radio and television in Australia, and also the co-regulatory Online Content Scheme. Consumers who have complaints about programs on television and radio or certain types of content on the Internet can apply to the ACMA. The Commercial Television Code of Practice is a set of regulatory guidelines, registered with the ACMA, with which commercial television broadcasters should comply.

The Australian Press Council is the self regulatory body of the print media. The Council deals with complaints from the public about editorial material in newspapers and magazines published in Australia, and aims to maintain the freedom of the press.

Media ownership

Controls over media ownership in Australia are laid down in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, administered by the ACMA. Even with laws in place Australia has a high concentration of media ownership compared to other western countries. Ownership of national and the newspapers of each capital city are dominated by two corporations, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, (which was founded in Adelaide but is now based from the United States) and John Fairfax Holdings – Murdoch-owned titles account for nearly two-thirds (64.2 per cent) of metropolitan circulation[4] and Fairfax-owned papers account for a further quarter (26.4 per cent)[5].

News Corporation (News Corp) and Fairfax along with West Australian Newspapers and the Harris Group work together to create Australian Associated Press (AAP) which distributes the news and then sells it on to other outlets such as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Although much of the everyday main stream news is drawn from the AAP, all the privately owned media outlets still compete with each other for exclusive pop culture news.

Rural and regional media is dominated by Rural Press Limited, with significant holdings in all states and territories. Rural Press received a takeover offer from John Fairfax Holdings in late 2006, and completed the merger on 8 May 2007.[6]

There are rules governing foreign ownership of Australian media and these rules were being considered for loosening by the Howard Government.

According to Reporters Without Borders in 2006, Australia is in 35th position on a list of countries ranked by Press Freedom; well behind New Zealand (19th) and United Kingdom (27th) (but well ahead of the USA, ranked 53rd). This ranking is primarily due to the restrictions imposed by the recent anti-terrorism laws. The problem, and the concentration of media ownership, is one of many that is mentioned on the television show Media Watch, broadcast on the government funded ABC.

See also

References and notes

  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Media in Australia [2]
  • Kim Jackson, Parliament of Australia- Parliamentary Library, Media Ownership Regulation in Australia, 2003 [3]
  1. ^
  2. ^ Australian Broadcast History Old Radio Maintained by: Barry Mishkind Updated: 11/26/00
  3. ^ Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Updated: 3/5/10
  4. ^ Calculated from circulation figures of metropolitan newspapers quoted in Wikipedia.
  5. ^ Ibid.
  6. ^ Rural Press, Fairfax officially merged, The Age, 9 May 2007.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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