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Editorial |  :

The federal government's plans for Local Media, released for public comment on Friday doesn't include any free money or monopoly extensions for the 'Big Five' regional media players so expect tantrums

The federal government's latest media reform pitch has failed to win over the 'Big Five' regional media companies.

Foreign streaming services, which are currently unregulated, would have to commit to spending a portion of their revenue on producing Australian content, which is good.

In an open letter to the minister, five media executives from the 'Save our Voices' campaign said their attempts to have the minister see it heir way had fallen on deaf ears (Insert the phase 'Vested Interest' above as appropriate).

The letter, signed by the 'Big Five' - Including the CEO's of WIN Network, Southern Cross Austereo, Prime Media Group & Australian Community Media (Fairfax) said the Fletcher plan 'Fails to understand the urgency and extent of reforms needed'.

They say the proposed plan doesn't address sector's issues, specifically, how the government-owned NBN is facilitating access to the heavily regulated and licensed regional markets by the unregulated digital platforms of the metropolitan television networks and international tech media giants - Oh really?

The Virus has been good to the 'Big Five'

Only once in a corporate lifetime does something like Covid come along - Suddenly 'Old School' media has had the excuse to fire staff, ditch labour intensive & expensive stuff like printing presses and newsrooms, and be able to turn around and say with a straight face 'The virus made us do it'.

They bleat and whinge about 'The internet killing regional media' whilst companies like News Limited used the Virus as an excuse to axe 112 regional print newspapers, including 36 which will close altogether and 76 which will remain as 'Online mastheads' - delivered to your desktop by the same government-owned NBN service they are busy complaining about.

And its the same story with Fairfax clone Australian Community Media (ACM), publishers of the 'Port News'.

ACM used the Virus as an excuse to fire staff, closed almost all their regional news papers and shut down all their print centres whilst doing a deal last month with Australia's largest catalogue delivery company to print & deliver their remaining newspapers (After all, you've got to have something to 'Wrap' those catalogues in, don't you!).

Fact check:

What the 'Big Five' has failed to admit is that for them 'Local Content is not longer king'.

The 'Big five' are all capital city based corporations who's overriding imperative in a shrinking market with falling revenues is to maximise profit by cutting costs, and that is the real reason regional media has experienced large scale staff cuts & news room closures.

These days the Olds school 'Big Five' use the banner 'Local Media means local news' as a marketing tool, not a genuine commitment to regional relevance.

The 'Big Five's' current regional media argument is simply an evolution of the 'Top down' corporate monopolies that evolved half a century ago as a result of Australia's cosy 'Tri-partied' commercial TV channel Eco structure (Channel's 7, 9 & 10) & the Fairfax / News Limited two way strangle hold over regional newspapers.

Whilst the 'Big Five' where the regional media gate-keepers all was sweetness and light and their monopolies remained very profitable, then along can the Internet & Pay TV and suddenly the sacred cash cow was no longer theirs alone to milk.

'Big Five' top down thinking and profit maximisation, with respect to regional media at least, has seen the evolution of the 'Wrapperware' approach to local relevance. 

'Wrapperware' is a technique used by the 'Big Five' to make their regional products look like local media, where as in fact they are nothing more than 'Wrappers' stuffed full of adverts with pesky, expensive things like local news stories used to fill any gaps, an approach predicated on the proposition that 'News costs money, adverts make money'.

So, what next for 'Local Media' ? 'Old School' media can't and won't change.

The answer is the evolution of new, true forms of local media, like PortMac.News

Just like in the early days of printed newspapers: Locally owned, locally orientated media enterprises that back 'Local Heros' & who utilize modern cost effective techniques to promote local stories. to local citizens, the nation and now the interconnected world as well.

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