If you value free speech and worry about legislated censorship, you owe it to yourself to have a look at Ray Finklestein‘s inquiry into the media and media regulation. The report contains some explicit recommendations on how and why Australia’s media should be regulated. There are also some nauseating submissions by academics and rent seekers you have to read to believe (if you can stand reading them).
Before you get tucked in, you should know we read most of the report in March, a few weeks after it was released. We made some notes at the time, chortled over a few paragraphs, and guffawed in outrage over some of the claims. But since this is a daily letter about finance and not media, we didn’t go out of our way to publish any analysis of the report’s recommendations.
But with Gina Rinehart’s move to gain board seats at Fairfax, some of her critics are drawing on the Finklestein report to suggest new regulations of the media. They are claiming to act in the ‘public interest’. This claim needs to be examined.
Even though the Markets and Money is not a news gathering organisation (it can hardly be said to be an organisation at all), we believe the recommendations in the report would affect our ability to write to you in the way we do. More than that, the report itself is being used as an excuse to a: subsidise losing business models, and b: threaten publishers with fines and penalties when they run afoul of government appointed media boards. That’s worth more examination.
Some people are worried that big corporations have too much influence over media and government. Some people are worried that big government has too much influence over media and private life. The common ground for these concerns is that ‘big’ anything tends to act in its own interest, to the detriment of anything that gets in its way.
We won’t prattle on about it now. But we have penned some thoughts we’ll publish in the weekend edition of the Markets and Money. That way, if such matters interest you, you can read them at your leisure without interrupting your dose of daily financial contrariness. Until then!
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2012-06-18 – Dan Denning