Did you know that mass media in Australia is dominated by only two giant firms?

These firms are Nine Entertainment and News Corp Australia, a subsidiary of American-based News Corp. Nearly all major metropolitan newspapers are owned either by News Limited, a subsidiary of News Corporation, or Nine Entertainment Co., with notable exceptions including The West Australian, The Sunday Times in Perth, and The Canberra Times in the nation's capital city.

In 1923, there were 26 metropolitan daily newspapers in Australia, owned by 21 proprietors. In 1950 it dropped to 15 titles with 10 owners. By the 1980s, there were just three who owned all the news titles.

News Corp and Nine’s duopoly was made possible when the Australian Government repealed the ‘two out of three’ rule in 2017. Traditionally media corporations were only allowed to own media in two out of the three media markets — print, radio and television — but not all three. (Source)

News Corp, Nine, and Southern Cross Media (and their associated entities) — control almost 90% of the lucrative metropolitan radio licences in Australia.

How can we expect a diverse reporting of viewpoints and debate in our daily news when our media is so concentrated? Australia was 3rd on the list of countries with the most concentrated media in the most recent study. It was superseded only by Egypt and China who were at the top of the list.

This is shown in the graph below from a 2016 landmark study on media ownership and concentration, titled “Who Owns the World’s Media?” The study was a collaboration between academics in 30 countries, and it collated and analysed data on the ownership and concentration of media in each nation.

Since the “Who Owns the World’s Media” research was carried out, APN News & Media was bought by News Corp in December 2016, further concentrating ownership.

Source.

Is this kind of media duopoly a threat to democracy?

Essentially we have two groups of powerful elite entrepreneurs who decide what is newsworthy and what isn’t.

These same people are funded via corporate partnerships, paywalls and advertorials, and some people have strong ties to government.

For example, Laura Chalmers is a senior editor at News Corp Australia in Queensland. A former press secretary to former prime minister Julia Gillard and Penny Wong, Laura Chalmers edits the Saturday Weekend magazines.

This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if there were more diversity of media firms delivering our daily news, because then we would be getting more perspectives from a variety of people with different political, cultural and social beliefs but that is not the case in Australia.

This is demonstrated by a survey conducted by The Media and Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA), which conducted a survey in 2020. In this survey, one long-time journalist reported to MEAA that they had been:

  • "Told to write stories about government policies or political campaigns that would benefit the owner of my company, even though they didn’t seem like stories that would interest our readers."
  • "I was told to drop other work and prioritise stories on this topic."
  • "It felt impossible to say no. Despite protesting, and talking to my immediate managers about how uncomfortable I was, there was no way I could avoid writing these stories and still retain my job.”
    (Source)

Who will employ these honourable journalists when they refuse to compromise their integrity? There aren't many employers to choose from after all.

What about Corporate interests?

It would be naïve to think that profits aren't prioritised over delivering unbiased news to the population. Leaving the media in the hands of a powerful few gives them free rein to shape public perception, and direct policies and the views of those with vested interests. This is most definitely a threat to our democracy.

We rely on the news to give us valuable information and to hold governments and/or corporations to account, especially if they are engaging in unethical practices. However, when these news firms are being sponsored by large corporations, who may be the ones partaking in those unethical practices, will they turn a blind eye? Will they feel pressured to soften the story due to conflicts of interest?

An example of how beholden corporate media is to its stakeholders is the two award-winning Florida TV producers working for Fox, who were fired after they refused to broadcast false reports about Monsanto's controversial genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone.

Testimony during the trial showed how Monsanto, the biotechnology company that developed BGH, warned Fox of "dire consequences" if the station went ahead and aired the critical report. (Source: Wired News Article)

Even without these threats, it appears that self-censorship is commonplace in the news media today, according to a survey of nearly 300 journalists and news executives by The Pew Research Center and The Columbia Journalism Review.

About one-quarter of the local and national journalists say they have purposely avoided newsworthy stories, while nearly as many acknowledge they have softened the tone of stories to benefit the interests of their news organisations. Together 41% admit they have engaged in either or both of these practices.

In general, local journalists and news executives cite conflicts of interests — financial and otherwise — more often than their national colleagues. In particular, more local than national print reporters say stories that are damaging to the financial interests of news organizations are commonly or sometimes avoided.
(Source: Phew Research Centre)

This makes mass media the perfect landscape for propaganda.

What is Propaganda?

Propaganda is a tool used to promote a particular product, agenda or point of view, sometimes by deception or half-truths which can be portrayed by cherry-picking or omitting unfavourable statistics. The goals of propaganda can vary, but commonly include:

  • Shaping people's opinions so they think a particular way
  • Convincing people to support a specific cause or political candidate
  • Encouraging people to behave in a certain way

For an example of just how powerful and destructive propaganda can be, we simply have to look back to Nazi Germany.

The Nazis started advocating clear messages tailored to a broad range of people and their problems. The propaganda aimed to exploit people’s fear of uncertainty and instability.

These messages varied from ‘Bread and Work’, aimed at the working class and the fear of unemployment, to a ‘Mother and Child’ poster portraying the Nazi ideals regarding woman.  Jews and Communists also featured heavily in the Nazi propaganda as enemies of the German people. (Source)

This propaganda was much more effective given that it coincided with economic instability. With people in a state of despair due to increased poverty, they were more susceptible to the propaganda which promised a strong leader and a solution to their plight.

Propaganda relies on media and advertising to flourish, so we must be vigilant about not allowing opportunities for bad actors to use it to their advantage. Diversity of media is paramount to this.

Let's look at an example of how modern propaganda via media can work

Robert F Kennedy Jr. and Dennis Prager discuss how Big Pharma’s advertising clout has given it the power to pressure media outlets to favourably cover its products, and how health agencies’ financial interests in the drugs and vaccines they investigate constitutes a clear conflict of interest.

Watch video here:

To give you another example of how mass media can be motivated to report favourably on its donors, let’s look at the Gates Foundation:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has made over $300 million worth of donations to fund media projects. How much public perception does that buy? To see some of the grants and who they were awarded to, click here.

BMFG also funds research on the most effective ways to craft media messages. Gates-backed think tanks turn out media fact sheets and newspaper opinion pieces. Magazines and scientific journals get Gates-money to publish research and articles. Experts coached in Gates-funded programs write columns that appear in media outlets from The New York Times to The Huffington Post. (Source: Columbia Journalism Review)

This raises the question as to whether Gates-funding steers media coverage in directions that serve specific foundation goals. Let us not forget that Bill Gates is one of the largest investors in pharmaceutical companies and has profited greatly from investing in them. Coupled with all his grants to media outlets, we have pretty big conflicts of interest.

Would you report unfavourably on an organisation that was financing you so generously? Do we want these foundations to be shaping the way our journalists are educated? It seems like a recipe for disaster when we hand so much power and influence over to globalists with very strong views on how issues like healthcare and agriculture should be handled.

These philanthropists don’t appear to be championing local farmers for instance - they would much prefer to buy up all the farmlands themselves and cash in even more, after telling us that cows burping and farting is one of the greatest threats to the planet.

What about The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)? Can it be trusted to report unbiased news?

The ABC is the only government-funded broadcasting corporation, but is its reporting biased due to political pressures and the issue that the board has, in the past, been politically stacked?

In an article in The Conversation in 2022, it states "The Turnbull and Morrison governments routinely appointed to the board people not recommended by the independent merit-based selection process introduced by the Abbott government in 2013.”

Do you think people with strong political views should be able to oversee the reporting of our news?

Did you know that former Chair of the ABC, Justin Milne, allegedly asked ABC boss to sack journalist disliked by government?

In 2018, The Guardian reported that Milne had called on Guthrie to fire the chief economics correspondent, Emma Alberici, who had been critical of the government, and also the political editor, Andrew Probyn.

“They [the government] hate her,” Milne wrote in a leaked email in reference to Alberici. “Get rid of her.” (Source)

Another example of the government's involvement in the ABC is when mining executive Vanessa Guthrie, Chair of The Minerals Council of Australia, was appointed by the government, despite not being recommended by any independent selection process. (Source)

In May 2022, the ABC appointed an ombudsman to oversee the complaints system.

Not only is this yet another layer of bureaucracy on top of an onerous complaints system already in place, but worse by far is that the ombudsman will report directly to a board that has been politically stacked.

Given most of the complaints that cause trouble for the ABC come from politicians or well-connected people with partisan political interests, this amounts to an outright betrayal of editorial independence.
(Source: The Conversation Article)

Did you know that the majority of News comes from a News Agency?

Unlike a store that sells newspapers, a News Agency in this context is an organisation that gathers, writes and distributes news from around the world to newspapers, periodicals, radio and television broadcasters, government agencies and other users.

It does not generally publish news itself but supplies news to its subscribers, who by sharing costs obtain services they could not otherwise afford. All the mass media depend upon these agencies for the bulk of their news. With such little diversity in our news sources, we are again bound to the perspectives of the few.

While there are many News Agencies around the world, there are three main news agencies that have offices all over the world. These are Agence France-Presse )(AFP), the Associated Press (AP) AND Reuters. They provide the majority of the news printed by the world’s newspapers. By the 1980s they provided over 90% of all the news we see each day. (Source)

Does it ever feel like all the newsreaders and radio announcers are reading from the same script?

That’s because most of the news that is broadcast comes from the few news agencies mentioned above.
Watch this short clip of news reporters from different stations parroting the same news word for word.

AAP is Australia’s only newswire service (news agency), delivering stories and images around the country and around the world every day.

AAP’s focus is breaking news, but it is also known for its court reporting, sport, political coverage, feature stories and photographs.

AAP also currently operates ‘Fact check’, a fact-checking service which is accredited by the Poynter Institute’s International fact-checking network.

But can these fact-checking networks be trusted when they have donors like The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who give grants to these institutes "to improve the accuracy in worldwide media of claims related to global health and development” which these donors end up profiting from? (Source)

As German historian, Volker Barth, pointed out:

“News agencies structure the perception of the world and determine how people experience the environment. News agencies select, classify and edit information and thus decide which local event receives global attention or becomes a global event.”

Who regulates the news in Australia?

ACMA is an Australian government statutory authority within the Communications portfolio. It is responsible for collecting broadcasting, radiocommunication and telecommunication taxes and regulating Australian media.

It does this through various legislation, regulations, standards and codes of practice. ACMA is a converged regulator, created to oversee the convergence of telecommunications, broadcasting, radio communications and the internet.

In light of the Misinformation Bill that is currently in draft, where the government is seeking to give ACMA more powers to tackle what they deem is “misinformation and disinformation", it is clear that they don’t exist to regulate the media or the government, since they are both exempt from the bill.

It seems to be more inclined to want to regulate individuals who question the various narratives of the mainstream media. (Source [see clause 7])

Did you know about Operation Mockingbird?

To understand how easy it is to alter public perception, we can look back to the 1950s at Operation Mockingbird which was the name of a secret campaign initiated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which continued for more than two decades until it was uncovered in the 1970s.

From the 1950s, the CIA started recruiting journalists, editors and students in order to write and promulgate false stories. The CIA’s stories were entirely propaganda, and their employees were paid huge salaries in order to promote such fake news.

Essentially, the CIA managed to control both national and international newspapers through bribes. The CIA went to the extremes of funding students, cultural organisations and magazines that would spread the CIA’s views of events. Some question if Operation Mockingbird ever ceased. It would certainly be much easier to run such an operation in today’s media climate. (Source)

Watch a short video about operation Mockingbird here:

Operation Mockingbird

In the past, mass media, under the influence of powerful people, has been able to implement manipulative strategies in order to alter ‘global perception’ about events, people and situations.

Given that most people watch mainstream media, which here in Australia is dominated by two mega firms who are sponsored by large corporations and NGOs with vested interests, is this concentration of media into the hands of a few powerful elite a threat to our democracy? What do you think?

If you feel uneasy about Australia's media duopoly, here are some alternate independent sources of news

To broaden your horizons and see other perspectives, there are many journalists who have taken on the job of informing us about matters that the dominant mass media do not deem newsworthy. To explore these news sources, here are some links:

The light Newspaper Australia

The People’s Voice

Children’s Health Defence

AMPS

Expose - News

Infowars

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These flyers and shirts feature a link to this article.

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