World Media in 2005: Australia

The Australian prime minister's plan to relax media ownership laws is good news for its most famous media figures, Murdoch and Packer, whose empires are the market's dominant forces.

Despite being such a huge country, Australia is sparsely populated - just 20.2 million people live there, less than half the population of England. The Queen is still the official head of state.

The Liberal-National prime minister, John Howard, was elected for his fourth consecutive term in October 2004 and is the second-longest-serving Australian premier. His majority in both the upper and lower houses in Australia gives him the country's first majority government in 15 years.

This has ramifications for Australia's media, particularly considering that relaxation of the country's stringent media ownership laws is on Howard's political agenda.

This change cannot come a moment too soon for some of the country's well-known media moguls. Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, despite having swapped a listing on the Australian stock market to become a US-listed company in 2004, continues to be a force to be reckoned with Down Under since buying Australia's biggest newspaper group, The Herald and Weekly Times, in the 80s. Meanwhile, PBL's Kerry Packer, Australia's richest man, made his fortune in TV and claims to watch more TV than anyone in Australia. Both Murdoch and Packer are grooming their sons to succeed them, just as they took over the family business from their fathers.

Fairfax is the second-biggest player in newspapers after Murdoch's News Limited, with Melbourne's The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review.

Technology is a big deal in Australia and dinner parties see guests comparing mobile phones and their various functions. Australians are among the world's heaviest users of SMS.

TV channels are full of imports or formats borrowed from the US or Europe.

There remains a notable lack of innovation in terms of new TV formats on the part of the major channels.

Autumn sees the arrival of an Australian edition of Northern & Shell's OK!. The title, which will launch as a monthly, is aiming for 70,000 readers.

On the agency scene, the arrival of Naked in Sydney has sent some fur flying among traditional media shops, particularly when it picked up Coca-Cola's planning account.

The media scene is characterised by a lack of stuffiness, where professionalism is just as important as being able to relax and talk about the big game over a beer.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE

USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1=

A$1.53 *Estimated

News- Mag-

Total papers azines TV Radio Others Outdoor Internet

1992 3,122 1,362 212 1,082 280 16 170 0

1993 3,216 1,314 267 1,148 297 16 173 0

1994 3,529 1,500 324 1,219 311 20 155 0

1995 3,856 1,669 347 1,318 332 24 166 0

1996 3,881 1,617 374 1,359 342 27 162 0

1997 4,282 1,790 478 1,465 352 31 166 0

1998 4,603 1,963 499 1,565 363 35 179 0

1999 4,806 2,004 519 1,600 420 38 203 23

2000 5,250 2,190 546 1,790 446 45 180 54

2001 4,879 2,041 504 1,623 453 42 177 40

2002 4,977 1,950 514 1,738 458 38 170 109

2003 5,433 2,120 536 1,906 480 43 194 154

2004 5,972 2,287 577 2,115 537 47 213 196

2005* 6,290 2,378 602 2,221 564 49 221 254

2006* 6,611 2,473 638 2,310 589 51 230 319

2007* 6,954 2,560 664 2,413 619 53 241 404

ADSPEND NOTES

1) Excludes agency commission

2) Includes classified advertising

3) Excludes production costs

4) After discounts

5) Magazines include consumer and business magazines

FACTFILE

HIGHEST CIRCULATING

Newspaper: The Herald Sun (daily, 553,000)

Business magazine: Time (weekly, 100,000)

Consumer magazine: Australian Women's Weekly (weekly, 688,000)

Most-watched TV programme (2003): Rugby World Cup final

Best new TV format: Australian Idol

MAJOR LOCAL MEASUREMENT TOOLS

Circulation: Audit Bureau of Circulations: quarterly for papers, twice a

year for magazines

Circulation Audit Board: Twice a year for trade and speciality papers

Readership: Roy Morgan Research readership survey

TV viewing: AC Nielsen, OzTam

TOP MEDIA OWNERS

Newspapers: News Limited (News Corp), Fairfax

Magazines: ACP Publishing, Reed Business Information

Television: ABC, SBS (both public), Network 7, TEN Holdings

LOWDOWN

Media topic du jour - The relaxation of media ownership laws.

Reigning media guru and why - Anyone from Naked. The agency claims to have a monopoly on obectivity and integrity.

Media mogul to be seen dining with and why - Since 2004 was a record year for revenue and profits, there are no moguls to dine with: they are all holidaying in exotic locations, spending their bonuses.

Car to drive - Most people drive Japanese cars.

Top-selling beer brand - Anything cold.

Phone to carry - BlackBerry.

Whatever you do, don't say ... "We stuffed you in the rugby."

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