If there was any more evidence needed about the political self-interest that dominates the Gillard government’s planned media regulation, this is it ($):
CABINET ministers have canvassed a startling intervention in news and current affairs to prevent television networks from striking partnerships with other media companies in a sign of last-minute changes to reforms due within weeks.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is understood to have put the proposals to Julia Gillard on Monday night in an attempt to stop the Ten Network from working with News Limited to produce a Sunday current affairs program.
As Wayne Swan joined the discussion, Senator Conroy suggested expanding his reform package to ban free-to-air TV networks from outsourcing news and current affairs to other media companies.
Labor’s frustration with News is well known after cabinet ministers talked about “going to war” with the company in August 2011 because of their anger at reports critical of the government.
Sources told The Australian yesterday that Senator Conroy used the talks on Monday night to suggest measures to prevent any commercial free-to-air TV network from outsourcing news and current affairs to another media entity.
The minister argued that a specific provision was needed because other changes, such as his proposed “public interest test” on ownership transactions, could not address editorial decisions.
On his blog, Andrew Bolt hints this is not the first time his show has been in the sights of the communications minister.
UPDATE: Tim Andrews adds his thoughts over at Free Speech Australia.