News Ltd boss Kim Williams blasts media reforms

THE Gillard government is looking to impose a political rather than public interest test in its bid to appoint a Soviet-style Tsar to oversee the media and damage free speech in Australia, News Limited chief executive Kim Williams said today.

“This is the first government outside of wartime that is contemplating government-sanctioned journalism,” Mr Williams said in a speech to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce hosted in Melbourne.

Mr Williams slammed Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s plan to create a government-appointed bureaucrat, known as the Public Interest Media Advocate, to have oversight of professional media groups and their handling of complaints against the media and press standards.

The advocate would also make “public interest” decisions on media takeovers and investment.

‘Gun to the head’

News Limited CEO Kim Williams criticises Senator Stephen Conroy’s proposed media law reforms

Kim Williams

News Ltd CEO Kim Williams during his speech to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne. Picture: Aaron Francis

But Mr Williams said the proposed laws were a reaction from “a government hell-bent on imposing last-century regulation to control the media it doesn’t like”.

“The appointment of a person to act as a so-called public interest media advocate to on the one hand oversee media company mergers to protect the diversity of voices, and on the other hand oversee the industry’s standards represents direct government intervention in free speech.”

Mr Williams said the position was akin to a “public interest Tsar” and was an “outrageous” attack on a free press and democracy.

“The proposed advocate will have power to decide whether or not an industry-funded regulatory body – like The Australian Press Council which Registered Media Firms will be forced to join – is effectively upholding those standards.

“If this new Tsar decides it isn’t, then the advocate has the power to revoke the publisher’s exemption from privacy laws which are essential for journalists to do their job. Namely to report without fear or favour.

“Effectively the government-appointed advocate will have the power to close down our ability to report on that which is going on in our society.

“The government is saying that, if their appointed representative does not like what the media is doing, it will take away the basic, fundamental, rights of a free press.

Rights that are enshrined in every other modern democracy in the world.”

Mr Williams argued the digital age and consumer choice was now driving more media diversity than at any time in history and there was no reason for more regulation.

“Frankly the so-called public interest test is nothing more than a political interest test.

“The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, The Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Foreign Investment Review Board all have extensive powers to enforce diversity and ensure competition, so why on earth do we need another layer unless it is to impose politically motivated oversight?”

The 2011-12 Convergence Review failed to define what constituted “public interest” and the proposed new regulator would set its own definition, he said.

Mr Williams said Senator Conroy’s “Soviet-style argument” to pledge the bill would be passed by the end of next week, with the aid of the Greens and independent votes, and also robbed Parliament and industry of having adequate time to analyse and respond to the detail of the proposed legislation.

“The Parliament needs time to consider in detail changes that affect billions of dollars of investment, thousands of jobs and the future of entire business frameworks.”

Senator Conroy had effectively “put a gun to the head of the Parliament, our industry and the Australian public” by demanding his reform package be adopted, Mr Williams said.

Senator Conroy denied the changes would impact on free speech and has argued the new Public Interest Media Advocate would not get involved in individual complaints against publishers and broadcasters but would seek to ensure the industry “meets the standards that it sets for itself”.

“This is about trying to find a way that we bring together the legitimate concerns of the public, the legitimate concerns of the sector, so individuals complaints are still dealt with in the same way.

“But if there is a breakdown in process, if it’s not operating to the standards that it sets for itself, then the advocate is the judge of that,” Senator Conroy said.

Posted on March 13, 2013, in ConspiracyOz Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. More truckloads of crap….. do we have a free press when it is controlled by scumbags like Murdoch and his Israeli comrades… the Zionist mob who colonized Palestine with absolute disregard to humans rights.
    Ahhhhh!… yes…. we see this creep, highly paid Williams, espousing moral law behind a sign “The Australia-Israeli Chamber of Commerce.
    I don’t support Israel and it’s military takeover of Palestine so how the hell can this jerk moralize to the Australian public when his boss overlooks moral issues in Palestine….. double think at its best.
    The communist government of Gillard unionism also want total control of the press as old Julie has many skeletons in her cupboard and with an election on the window sill her strive for power is paramount….. all’s fair in politics they say?
    But…. and a BIG BUT!….. , not Jules, but history that reminds us of the crimes committed against Russians in the Russian revolution and the crimes committed against the people of Palestine.
    You see…. when you can grasp the big picture it becomes very clear that both parties want to control the press…. it’s just two hats on the same head…… we must think between the lines……Gus


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