Today, we wake to the news of Seven West Media's second major announcement in a matter of days – the conglomerate is selling Pacific Magazines to Bauer Media.
Just last week, Seven West Media announced it will merge with Prime Media and sell its Western Australian radio assets (Redwave) to Southern Cross Media.
Hot off the heels of the largest act of media consolidation in the country, with Nine's purchase of Fairfax Media last year, or Pedestrian.TV's purchase of Allure Media, it seems not a month goes by anymore where one of Australia's prominent media houses is cozying up with a commercial rival.
Yes, it improves the balance sheet. Yes, it streamlines operating models (read: journalist job redundancies). Yes, it makes big, big bucks for the organisations on both sides of the deal.
But what do we risk losing through the ever-increasing level of concentration of media ownership in this country?
- Democracy hinges on a diversity of opinion. We risk this by having major mastheads, magazines, or television stations behest to the whims of a few individuals.
- Australia's levels of media ownership concentration are already among the highest in the world, and we continue to slip in the ranking of the World Press Freedom Index. Further consolidations will only exacerbate the growing issue of a lack of diversity in political stance, minority voices, or socioeconomic perspective.
- A variety of opinion and options to compare perspectives are hallmarks of any functioning democracy. Taking a homogeneous approach to major issues drowns out alternative voices.
It's time for Australia have a serious think about whether we want to prioritise profit or a diverse democratic press.
“The sale of Pacific Magazines is another major initiative aligned with our strategy to improve balance sheet flexibility and simplify the operating model to enable greater focus on growth initiatives.