The Finkelstein Inquiry: Miscarried Media Regulation Moves Miss Golden Reform Opportunity
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The Australian media’s nervous wait for the outcome of media regulation reform initiatives came to an abrupt and ignominious end in March 2013 as the moves collapsed. The Federal Government withdrew a package of Bills at the eleventh hour, when it became apparent that the Bills would not garner the required support in parliament. These Bills were preceded by two major media inquiries – the Convergence Review and the Independent Media Inquiry – culminating in reports released in 2012. The latter initiative contained sweeping reform recommendations, including one for the formation of a government-funded ‘super regulator’ called the News Media Council, which the media generally feared would spell doom especially for those engaged in the ‘news’ business. This article examines the origins of the Independent Media Inquiry; the manner of the inquiry’s conduct; what problem the inquiry was seeking to address; the consequent recommendations; and ultimately, the manoeuvres for legislative action and the reform initiative’s demise. This article concludes that the Independent Media Inquiry was flawed from the outset and that it missed a golden opportunity for effecting reform, the need for which even the media acknowledged.
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