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Australia – (E3) Diversity of formats

Score in short:

Australia has sufficient news presentation formats of news and current affairs.

Score in detail:

One in-depth study on sources of news and current affairs, investigating both the industry and audience aspect, also asked whether there is sufficient diversity of news formats (Pearson & Brand 2001, 191-199). The study was prompted by concerns over Australia’s renowned concentration of media ownership. The predecessor of the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Australian Broadcast Authority as the then regulator, endeavoured to find out the degree of influence that different types of broadcasting services are able to exert in shaping community views in Australia.

According to the study’s findings, newspapers and public radio were considered to cover local and regional issues better than other media, with commercial radio and television only doing a somewhat adequate job (Pearson & Brand 2001, 198). With regard to regional news, Internet and Pay TV were ranked even lower. The recent increase in number of digital television and the fourfold increase in Internet use have done little to improve local and regional news. While international news is now available in a wide variety of formats over the Internet, this has not increased the reporting of local and regional news. The same reasons as mentioned by Pearson and Brand are still relevant, in that the provision of local and regional news is affected by newsroom budgets and attempts by larger media groups to affect economies of scale (p. 199).

No such limitations can be said to exist in Australia’s large metropolitan centres, where a rich variety of news and current affair formats can be found in the print and broadcast media, and where two 24 Hour News Channels are available – Sky News on pay television and the ABC’s 24 Hours news channel on digital HD receivers.