Does it matter who owns the media? In short, yes. It comes down to 4 main reasons: IDEOLOGY, PRIVACY, ACCESS and POWER.
The media in Australia is owned and subsequently control by some of likes of Gina Rinehart (Fair Fax), Rupert Murdoch (Fox, News Limited) and Bruce Gorden (WIN). Their influence over the media results in the power to influence the audience who turns to the media for news and a look into a part of society they can’t reach.
This influence, as seen in history, and ownership and control of the media can be used for the wrong reasons. The role of the media in Nazi Germany was paramount to bringing the party to power and ultimately giving Hitler full control. Propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, utilised the media to strike fear and indoctrinate civilians with Nazi ideals. Therefore, media owners can influence political & social issues thus controlling societal ideology.
Control means an individual has power. Rupert Murdoch’s empire is not one for hiding political preference with affiliates such as Fox News gaining a reputation of being politically biased and out of touch with how society should run. Check out this Buzzfeed article highlighting controversial Fox News moments.
With an individual having control of a media channel it can result in the violation of privacy. The 2011 Phone Hacking Scandal involved the hacking into the voice mail of thousands of people including celebrities, politicians, the families of deceased troops and murder victims. It was a clear violation of privacy, resulting is the closer of the News of the World newspaper after 168 years of printing.
The media ownership monopoly also plays into an Australian’s ability to access certain media sources. For example, Netflix begin in Australia on the 24th of March 2015, however its library isn’t as expansive as the American version with shows such as ‘Game of Thrones’ only allowed to be shown on Foxtel or ‘Breaking Bad’ spin off ‘Better Call Saul’ only being shown on another media streaming site called Stan. It is due to the people who control these outlets that has restricted audiences from being able to simply access shows from one source.
The media monopoly has a large impact on society or the individuals accessing the media and its messages. It can potentially influence opinions through biased representation, thus having an effect on political voting. This is due to many news sources whom are owned by the same person posting about something with the same opinion, thus eliminating a diversity of ideas. This can be seen through Rupert Murdoch’s ownership of newspapers in Australia and media in the US. This results in details or new that is fitting on one party to be reported on therefore leaving a missing perspective.
In the end, it does matter who owns the media. It effects people who take biased news as face value thus not allowing them to tabulate their own opinion about an issue if one side is constantly talked about and exposed.
- Pusey, Michael and McCutcheon, Marion (2011), ‘From the Media Moguls to the Money Men? Media Concentration in Australia’,Media International Australia, No 140, pp. 22-31