Prime Minister Media Approach

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Gillard called to stop making ‘private’ deals with media owners

25 Jul 2012 By David Blight

A prominent media commentator has called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to stop conducting private negotiations with media owners, following news of a letter discussing compromises to her stance on press regulation.
Cox Media principal Peter Cox has come out swinging against Gillard’s interactions with media owners, and has argued she should be discussing issues about media regulation in a public policy statement rather than in private correspondence with media bosses.
It was reported yesterday in The Australian that Gillard had written to the chief executives of seven media companies, saying that she was willing to compromise on the issue of media regulation. The letter indicated the Labor Government might be open to discussing stronger forms of self-regulation, rather than imposing a new regulatory body, as suggested by the Finkelstein inquiry. This followed a letter sent to Gillard by prominent media bosses at the beginning of the month, urging her to hold back her push for stricter media controls.
While Cox argued that certain areas of media regulation need to be tightened, he criticised Gillard for her approach. “She should be having these discussions in public, not through private letters to media bosses, not through a letter to the people with a commercial interest,” Cox said. “Gillard should be making a public policy statement.” “I agree there should be stricter self-regulation, and it is certainly in the media companies’ interests to compromise with the government. But this letter shows the government succumbed to pressure from media owners. She received a letter and she gave in to the pressure.
“This has always been a problem. Think back to when Packer or Murdoch could make a phone call and negotiate directly with the Prime Minister. “All these issues, particularly those to do with the media and public interest, should occur in public, so people can be involved in the discussion. Media owners should be part of the discussion, not the only people having the conversation.”
The original letter sent to Gillard was signed by Nine Entertainment’s David Gyngell, Seven West Media’s Don Voelte, AAP’s Bruce Davidson, APN’s Brett Chenoweth, News Limited’s Kim Williams, Foxtel’s Richard Freudenstein, and Sky News’s Angelos Frangopolous. However, notably absent from the list were Fairfax chief Greg Hywood and Ten boss James Warburton.

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