Save Our Voices: Labor leader speaks up for regional media

Anthony Albanese with Labor MPs Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird. Picture: Robert Peet
Anthony Albanese with Labor MPs Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird. Picture: Robert Peet

Labor leader Anthony Albanese says there could be fewer voices in regional Australia if calls for fundamental changes to the media landscape are ignored.

Mr Albanese says Labor will pursue a fairer deal for regional media at the next election, if the Morrison government fails to make changes to help local news services survive.

The Save Our Voices partners also want the one-licence-to-a-market rule - which prevents TV broadcasters operating more than one TV licence in a market - to be abandoned.

The companies argue the rules are arbitrary given the dominance of Google and Facebook, and prevent regional media businesses from merging in order to survive.

Mr Albanese, who was communications minister in 2013, said it could actually reduce media diversity further if these companies went under.

"In the regional media market, those involved with the Save Our Voices campaign, it's driven by smaller players in the overall media market. Smaller but significant players who have come together because they want to make sure that we don't reduce media diversity in Australia," Mr Albanese said.

"If those smaller operators disappear then that will further concentrate media ownership which is not a great outcome."

Mr Albanese said regional media were "forgotten" in the limited reforms of 2017.

"This government is good at leaving people out and forgetting people. They forgot about the regionals," Mr Albanese said.

"The regions, in terms of a voice, is even more important for a range of reasons. In your capital city markets you've got multiple voices in many of them.

"Without reform we know there will actually be less voices in the regions."

Labor's assistant treasury spokesman Stephen Jones said it was vital that regional media companies survived.

"Journalism is a public good. We've got to find a way to ensure that we can pay for it, businesses can make money out of it so they can employ people and they can't all be based in Ultimo or Surry Hills.

"We've got to have them based in the regions," Mr Jones said.

This story Regional Australia 'forgotten' in media reform: Albanese first appeared on The Canberra Times.