Australian Media Ownership

Media Ownership and Control

One of the key questions that arises when discussion turns to Australia’s media is whether we should care who owns and controls it. While we like to think of ourselves as shrewd audiences totally aware of the media we consume, most people spend little time thinking about control media companies can have on their lives.

A diversely owned media free of the influence of governments and other vested interests is considered vital for a healthy democracy. The idea of the ‘public interest’ and ‘the public’s right to know’ stem from the media seeing itself historically as a kind of watchdog on people in positions of power and influence, ensuring that they act in an honest and ethical manner. It is at the core of democratic theories of government.

The media is also an entertainment industry that can shape the attitudes and opinions of a society. It can be argued that it is now as powerful a force in society as the very people it claims to be watching over. Therefore, central to any study of the role of the media is the idea that the media is owned.

In Australia, there are three different types of media organisations: Government, Commercial and Community.


In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Special Broadcasting Corporation (SBS) are both owned by the people of Australia as represented bythe federal government. The nature of their operation, such as the ABC’s editorial independence, is enshrined in legislation. Both the ABC and SBS have a Charter that defines the function and purpose of each organisation.


Commercial media organisations are privately owned companies. They are a business that create and communicate media content with the aim of making a financial profit through advertising and program sales. In Australia there are three main commercial media organisations: News Corporation owned by Rupert Murdoch; PBL Media; and Fairfax Media which was owned by the Fairfax family until 1990.

Media Ownership Regulation

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is the statutory government body making sure that companies comply with normal business laws. While the media is a business, the perception of its social, cultural and political influence means that other measures are in place to regulate it. The Australian Communication and Media oversees diversity and local content regulations. Under the Foreign Investment Policy proposals by foreign companies to invest in the Australian media must be approved by the Federal Treasurer.


• The nature of the production and distribution processes of Australian media organisations.
• The significance of factors such as ownership, finance and control on the operation of Australian media organisations.
• Characteristics of Australian audiences and the texts they consume.
• The relationship between Australian media organisations and the global media market.
• The impact of historical, cultural, legal, political and economic factors and institutional practices on the Australian media.
• Methods for researching, analysing and presenting information to support informed discussions.


• Describe features of Australian media organisations.
• Compare the nature and operation of Australian media organisations.
• Discuss the relationships between media audiences, Australian media organisations and texts.
• Discuss the impact of factors such as funding and management of Australian media organisations and the impact of the global media market on the nature and range of texts they produce.

60 Minutes Segment – Group Task

You will be given a topic and organisation to produce your 60 minutes segment on.

• Censorship verses Classification. What is the difference?

• How many Owners of the Media exist within Australia? Who are the major players? What do they all own?

• Free to Air TV verses Community. Which is better and why?

• Is it a good thing to only have a small amount of Media owners in Australia?
Why / Why Not?

• Why is Advertising so important to Australian Media? What would it look like without it?

For the Assessment booklet and the Rubric click on the link beside.

Student Example: 60 Minutes - Australian Media Ownership