Sydney, Mar 12: Media conglomerate News Limited’s chief executive Kim Williams has critiscised the Australian government’s changes to media ownership as a politically motivated attempt to ‘gag the media’.
Williams lashed out at the reforms announced by the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, that include the creation of a Public Interest Media Advocate to monitor activity in the sector.
The advocate will also ‘authorise’ self-regulatory media industry bodies, such as the Press Council, to ensure that media companies ‘live up to their own standards’.
Companies that did not meet self-regulatory criteria would not be ‘declared’ by the advocate and would not be protected under current privacy laws.
According to the Age, Williams said in a statement that the current ‘government will go down in history as the first Australian government outside of wartime to attack freedom of speech by seeking to introduce a regime which effectively institutes government-sanctioned journalism’.
Williams said threatening to remove privacy law exemptions was ‘a not too sophisticated endeavour to gag the media,’ the report said.
He called the public interest test a ‘political interest test that governments will use to punish outlets they don’t like,’ the report added. (ANI)