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Turnbull questions media ownership rules

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Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he is “fairly sympathetic” to the view that media ownership laws should be relaxed.

And he says the government is “looking very carefully” at changes.

Mr Turnbull says many people in the media industry have put a “very cogent” argument about the need to overhaul the laws in the internet age, which prevent cross-media ownership or television networks reaching more than 75 per cent of the population.

“You have to ask to yourself why do we have a rule that prevents one of the national networks acquiring 100 per cent coverage, why is there 75 per cent reach limitation,” he told Sky News on Sunday.

“Why is there a rule that says today that you can’t own print television and radio in the same market?”

The communications minister said diversity was no longer an issue, citing the launches of Guardian Australia and Mail Online.

“Competition is greater than it ever has been … why not just leave media mergers and ownership issues to the ACCC, to the standard competition monopoly rules that apply?

“We’re looking at it very carefully. I think (that argument) makes a very powerful point.”

Asked about Mr Turnbull’s comments, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government was consulting with people in the media sector.

“We have a deregulationist instinct,” he told reporters in Adelaide.

“Our mindset is always to make rules less rather than more onerous but let’s wait and see where those consultations go.”

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