SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s big media players have won long-sought reforms that will allow them to boost market share by facilitating consolidation, although doubts remain on whether the changes can stem the declines at the moguls’ ageing empires.
Billed as a means to compete with online giants such as Netflix and Alphabet Inc’s Google , the loosening of ownership restrictions was approved by Australia’s parliament on Thursday after the country’s center-right government won support for the reforms from independent politicians.
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The changes, supported by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp , Fairfax Media and Kerry Stokes-chaired Seven West Media, remove the so-called “two out of three” rule prohibiting one organization from owning all three media – television, newspaper and radio – in any given city.
Television networks will also be allowed to extend their reach beyond the previously allowed 75 percent of the population.
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The changes are expected to unleash a wave of consolidation locally, allowing long-established media players, including the Murdoch family, to increase their already vast interests.
It could clear the path for News Corp’s co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch and television entrepreneur Bruce Gordon to launch a rival bid to CBS Corp’s proposed buyout of broadcaster Ten Network Holdings . The duo have mounted a joint legal challenge to CBS’s A$201 million deal to acquire ailing Ten.
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News Corp Australia and Fairfax welcomed the government’s media reform legislation.
“This finally addresses the restrictions that have held back the competitiveness of media companies in Australia for far too long,” News Corp said in a statement.
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But analysts said the reforms package was no panacea.
“I don’t think this helps at all,” said independent media analyst Peter Cox.
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“For their long term survivability they have to come up with a way...
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