The organisation Reporters Without Borders compiles and publishes an annual ranking of countries based upon the organisation's assessment of their press freedom records. In 2011-12 Australia was ranked 30th out of 179th countries, which was a setback from the preceding year.
In addition to the public broadcasters which are available to almost all of Australia's population, there are three major commercial television networks: the Nine Network, the Seven Network and Network Ten. Most of Australia's heavily populated cities are serviced by all three networks. Some rural or regional areas may receive a more limited selection, often with some of the channels available showing programming from more than one of the major networks. An example of such a "shared" regional network is Imparja.
Digital free-to-air broadcasts commenced on 1 January 2001. Analogue broadcasts were originally intended to be phased out by 2008, however the target has been moved to 2013
After heated debate in the early 2000s over a Bill that would have removed the foreign ownership restrictions of broadcasting TV licenses, the Australian government chose to retain the foreign-ownership restrictions in its 1992 Broadcasting Act. As such, Australia continues to disallow foreign control of a broadcasting license and limit foreign ownership of broadcasting firms to 20%. The Howard Government was set to remove this law sometime in 2007, having gained parliamentary approval to change the legislation in 2006, however the Howard Government was removed from power in 2007.
Approximately 25% of Australian households had access to pay television services by the end of 2005. The main provider is Foxtel in both metropolitan, regional and rural areas offering nearly all Australian channels via cable & satellite TV in capital cities, and mostly the same channels are offered by Foxtel via satellite TV (predominantly) in regional areas with the recent merger with Austar in 2012.
There are several smaller competitors offer a subset of channels - with Fetch TV entering the market in 2010 with a subscription service over a few ADSL2+ networks, and TransACT offering TV via its own VDSL, VDSL2 and FTTP/FTTH networks in Canberra and its Neighbourhood Cable network in parts of Victoria. Other providers of Internet television in Australia offer free content or PPV, but don't offer a subscription product. UBI World TV offers a number of ethnic satellite TV and Radio channels nationwide, and other small companies offer some channels via satellite, especially foreign services or free-to-air channels, and some channels are available over the Internet.
There are 2 national and 10 state/territory daily newspapers, 37 regional dailies and 470 other regional and suburban newspapers. All major newspapers are owned either by News Limited, a subsidiary of News Corporation, or Fairfax Media. The national daily newspaper is The Australian. Also with nationwide circulation is The Australian Financial Review, the most prominent financial newspaper. Other notable newspapers are The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), The Age and the Herald Sun (Melbourne). There are a few popular independent news sources, including online news source Crikey.
Of 1600 magazines published in Australia, 30 have circulations of more than 80 000, including women's interest, general interest, television, home and garden, leisure and current affairs titles.
Australia's first regular radio broadcasts began on 13 November 1923 with station 2SB (later to become 2BL) in Sydney. The ABC began broadcasting in 1932.  Talkback radio was first broadcast with 3AW in Melbourne, 1967. ABC began experimenting with FM stations in the 1960s, but it wasn't until July 1980 that the first FM station commenced full operations. Melbourne-based 3EON (now known as 3MMM) was the first to air.
Currently there are 274 operational commercial stations (funded by advertising) and 341 community (publicly funded) radio stations.
Regulation of the media in Australia is limited to a narrow range of specific areas. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is the broadcasting regulator for radio and television in Australia, and also the co-regulatory Online Content Scheme. Consumers who have complaints about programs on television and radio or certain types of content on the Internet can apply to the ACMA. The Commercial Television Code of Practice is a set of regulatory guidelines, registered with the ACMA, with which commercial television broadcasters should comply.
The Australian Press Council is the self-regulatory body of the print media. The Council deals with complaints from the public about editorial material in newspapers and magazines published in Australia, and aims to maintain the freedom of the press.
Controls over media ownership in Australia are laid down in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, administered by the ACMA. Even with laws in place Australia has a high concentration of media ownership compared to other western countries. Ownership of national and the newspapers of each capital city are dominated by two corporations, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, (which was founded in Adelaide but is now based from the United States) and John Fairfax Holdings – Murdoch-owned titles account for nearly two-thirds (64.2 per cent) of metropolitan circulation and Fairfax-owned papers account for a further quarter (26.4 per cent).
News Corporation (News Corp) and Fairfax along with West Australian Newspapers and the Harris Group work together to create Australian Associated Press (AAP) which distributes the news and then sells it on to other outlets such as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Although much of the everyday main stream news is drawn from the AAP, all the privately owned media outlets still compete with each other for exclusive pop culture news.
Rural and regional media is dominated by Rural Press Limited, with significant holdings in all states and territories. Rural Press received a takeover offer from John Fairfax Holdings in late 2006, and completed the merger on 8 May 2007.
There are rules governing foreign ownership of Australian media and these rules were being considered for loosening by the Howard Government.
According to Reporters Without Borders in 2006, Australia is in 35th position on a list of countries ranked by Press Freedom; well behind New Zealand (19th) and United Kingdom (27th) (but well ahead of the USA, ranked 53rd). This ranking is primarily due to the restrictions imposed by the recent anti-terrorism laws. The problem, and the concentration of media ownership, is one of many that is mentioned on the television show Media Watch, broadcast on the government funded ABC.
- Canberra Press Gallery
- Journalism in Australia
- Australian media personalities (Category)
- Australian Commercial Television Code of Practice
References and notes
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (July 2010)|
- The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Media in Australia 
- Kim Jackson, Parliament of Australia- Parliamentary Library, Media Ownership Regulation in Australia, 2003 
- "A Press Freedom Index 2011 - 2012". Reporters Without Borders. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
- Australian Broadcast History Old Radio Maintained by: Barry Mishkind Updated: 11/26/00
- Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Updated: 3/5/10
- Calculated from circulation figures of metropolitan newspapers quoted in Wikipedia.
- Rural Press, Fairfax officially merged, The Age, 9 May 2007.
- Australian Broadcasting Authority
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation
- Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts
- The Australian Press Council
- Commercial Radio Australia
- Special Broadcasting Service
- Cable TV and Pay TV in Australia FAQ
- The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy