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Australia – (F5) Company rules against internal influence on newsroom/editorial staff

Score in short:

Media proprietors have long been dominant figures, also in newsroom decisions.

Score in detail:

As several interviewees said, this is a complex question. Much depends on the ownership structure of the media company, and several have statements on the independence of the editorial board. All the same, there was agreement on a culture of ‘upward referral’. Historically, Australia has been known for its hands-on media owners, notably Rupert Murdoch and the late Kerry Packer. While Murdoch publicly maintains that he does not interfere with the decisions of his editors (Chessell 2010), a high profile court case in 2010, brought by the sacked editor of high circulation Melbourne tabloid Herald Sun, indicates intervention by the Murdoch family (Milovanovic 2010; Guthrie 2010). The allocation of only one point reflects the fact that, while some media companies have statements of editorial independence, with others there is evidence of owners exerting influence on their media companies.