New media laws start on April 4th.

Governments always like to make potentially unpopular announcements when the media is preoccupied with other events; today, in the shadow of the boat crash on Sydney Harbour, the federal government has managed to sneak an announcement about the assention of their new media laws out, with barely anyone noticing at all.

There is certainly a risk in doing this now; prior to passing the legislation in the Senate last year, John Howard and Senator Helen Coonan swore black and blue that the new laws wouldn’t cause a rush of media mergers and then were left with egg on their faces when it happened within weeks. A sudden merger of media in Australia is not a good look in the run-up to the election; perhaps the government is counting on a buyout of Fairfax by a conservative leaning proprietor

So, expect Australia’s already dismal media to get even worse; where we have around ten or eleven independent commercial outlets in Melbourne and Sydney, this will now be able to drop to five. Expect newspapers to end up in the hands of TV stations, dumbing-down and endless cross-promotion.

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