This is a printer friendly page
Free for educational use

Broadcast Media Ownership

Video clip synopsis – Trevor Barr looks forward to the future of broadcasting and the internet in Australia.
Year of production - 2004
Duration - 1min 4sec
Tags - broadcasting, identity, Internet, media and society, media ownership, see all tags


Broadcast Media Ownership

How to Download the Video Clip

To download a free copy of this Video Clip choose from the options below. These require the free Quicktime Player.

download clip icon Premium MP4 ownership_pr.mp4 (7.9MB).

ipod icon Broadband MP4 ownership_bb.mp4 (3.7MB), suitable for iPods and computer downloads.

Additional help.

About the Video Clip


This interview with Trevor Barr was recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

Trevor Barr is an author, professor and the Director of the Creative Industries Research & Applications Centre at the Queensland University of Technology. You can view his full biography at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Curriculum Focus


Area of study 3. Australian media organisations

This area of study focuses on an analysis of Australian media organisations and the social and industrial framework within which they operate.

Media products are produced within a cultural, aesthetic, legal, political, economic, institutional and historical framework. Their production, distribution and circulation is affected by law, self-regulatory codes of conduct, industry pressures and the practices of particular media organisations. Other factors (for example, sources of revenue, ratings, circulation, ownership and control) influence the nature and range of media texts produced by individual organisations. Consideration of the impact of these factors on media organisations and their products is important in developing an understanding of the production role of different Australian media organisations.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


Taking its lead from the United States, Australia’s corporate culture ascended to lofty heights during the 1980s. Multi-millionaire magnates such as Kerry Packer, Rupert Murdoch and Alan Bond were feted as the new 'royalty’. Greed was good and everybody was out to make a dollar … until the bubble burst in 1987 when the stockmarket collapsed. Once again ordinary Australians lost livelihoods and life savings.

Broadcast Media Ownership
At the launch of television in 1956, Australian Broadcasting Control Board (ABCB) regulations meant that a media proprietor could own only two television stations or six radio stations Australia-wide, whether they were major city services or small country stations. This was called the 'two station rule’. There were no restrictions on the ownership of a combination of newspapers, television and radio stations in the same market.

As a result, the Packer family’s Consolidated Press controlled the Nine stations by 1960, the John Fairfax newspaper group controlled ATN7 and the Herald & Weekly Times newspaper group controlled HSV7. Regional media companies like Northern Star had similarly come to dominate media in some country areas. These companies had started out in print and, as broadcast media licences were offered, they extended into the 'new’ media of radio and television.

In the late 1970s Kerry Packer’s Nine Network led the push by commercial broadcasters to build national television networks. Radio broadcasters were already achieving national networks. As a trade-off for being allowed to create television networks spanning all six capital cities, the Government proposed there be strict limits on holding different kinds of media.

In 1985, new broadcasting legislation radically changed media ownership laws in Australia. The 'two-station rule’ was eliminated. Television proprietors could now control stations reaching 60 per cent of the national audience, but they could not own newspapers or radio in the same market as their television interests. The new rules sparked a major restructuring of the media industry, with companies choosing to focus their activities in either print media or broadcast media, but not both.

Successive governments have made laws trying to prevent the foreign ownership of Australian media. This intention was thwarted in 1984 when Rupert Murdoch – proprietor of News Limited which controlled newspapers plus Channel Ten – gave up his Australian citizenship for US citizenship so Murdoch’s News Corporation could acquire broadcast media interests in the United States. Though he sold his interest in Channel Ten, Murdoch owns substantial media interests in Australia, including part-ownership in pay TV operator Foxtel.

Classroom Activities


Answer the following questions from the Video Clip Context and the video clip itself:

  1. Why do you think it was seen as important to have rules about who owns the media? Do you think it is desirable to have rules governing who owns the media in Australia?
  2. Some people argue that it doesn’t matter who owns the media, the content will remain the same. What do you think?
  3. What do you think Trevor Barr means when he says ‘the broadcasters will get what they deserve’?

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.