Feature

World Media 2007: Australia

Australia is still a two-speed economy, with some areas enjoying increased trade with China, while others suffer water shortages. New media ownership laws could change the landscape.

Reservoirs drying up, farmers going bankrupt, suicides on the increase. Australia's past few months have seen the country in severe drought, claimed to be the worst in 1,000 years. The big cities all have water restrictions and high temperatures have worsened the situation. Concerns over climate change may even change opinion in Australia, which is the only major industrialised country other than the US to have rejected the Kyoto protocol.

The drought will affect the country's economy, but it is still forecast to grow undramatically, with GDP expanding by 3 per cent in the next year. There continues to be a two-speed economy, with mineral resource-rich Western Australia and Queensland enjoying the benefits of increased trade with China, while New South Wales remains in the doldrums.

The prime minister, John Howard, now in his fourth term, will lead the Liberal National coalition into federal elections later this year. He will be facing a newly appointed leader of the opposition Labor Party, Kevin Rudd.

Howard has put in place all the major reforms planned for his fourth term: getting rid of the government's holding in the leading telecoms company, Telstra, introducing sweeping industrial reforms, cutting personal taxes, simplifying superannuation and loosening media regulation.

The media laws passed in October 2006 marked the first overhaul of ownership controls in Australian media in more than 20 years. They nullify previous regulations introduced in 1985, which barred foreign companies from controlling more than 15 per cent of a TV company and more than 25 per cent of a newspaper publisher.

There has also been a relaxation of cross-media ownership laws governing newspaper, radio and TV companies in the same city and a regulator will monitor any activity.

Within hours of the law being passed, two major deals took place. The broadcaster Seven Network took a 14.9 per cent stake in West Australian Newspaper Holdings. Publishing and Broadcasting Limited, Australia's biggest media and gaming company, announced the creation of PBL Media, a joint venture with the private equity company CVC Asia-Pacific. It's not clear if PBL will use the A$4.5 billion from the deal to buy media assets.

News Corp has bought a 7.5 per cent share in its rival Fairfax and there are continuing rumours regarding various targets, including the Ten Network and the Federal Publishing Company.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE
USdollars million at current prices.
All years based on US$1= A$1.31 *Estimated
Total News- Maga- TV Radio Cinema Out- Online
papers zines door
2000 6,153 2,566 639 2,098 523 53 211 63
2001 5,856 2,392 591 2,040 531 49 207 47
2002 5,969 2,285 603 2,173 536 44 199 128
2003 6,527 2,484 628 2,394 563 50 227 180
2004 7,175 2,754 507 2,679 632 57 250 296
2005 7,693 2,895 555 2,762 672 64 270 474
2006 8,048 2,939 594 2,792 689 68 303 663
2007* 8,473 2,983 624 2,862 720 73 327 883
2008* 8,934 3,028 655 2,940 756 78 360 1,118
2009* 9,069 3,073 665 2,984 767 79 365 1,134

Adspend notes 1) Excludes agency commission. 2) Includes classified
advertising. 3) Excludes production costs. 4) After discounts. 5)
Internet includes general (display, national), classified, search and
directories.

FACTFILE
HIGHEST CIRCULATING TITLES
Newspaper: Sunday Telegraph (weekly, 702,000 copies)
Consumer magazine: Sunday Magazine (weekly, 687,000 copies)
TOP TV SHOWS
Most-watched TV programme (2005): Desperate Housewives
Best new TV format: Dancing with the Stars
MAJOR MEASUREMENT TOOLS
Circulation: Audit Bureau of Circulations
Readership: Roy Morgan Research readership survey
TV viewing: OzTam
MAIN MEDIA OWNERS
Newspapers: News Limited, Fairfax
Magazines: ACP Publishing, Pacific (owned by Seven Network)
TV: SBS (public), Seven Network, Publishing and Broadcasting Limited,
Network Ten

THE LOWDOWN

- Media topic du jour

Digital interactive media. Commercial electronic media developed in Australia at a pace in roughly line with the US, making the planning and buying of media more complex.

- Reigning media guru and why

Harold Mitchell, the chairman of Mitchell & Partners, is the most influential media buyer. At the end of 2006, he announced the AUS$100 million merger of his ad company with the online minnow emitch, the online venture it spun off five years ago.

- Media mogul to be seen dining with and why

Richard Freudenstein is the chief executive of News Digital Media, a new division of Rupert Murdoch's News Limited.

- Car to drive: New Ford Focus.

- Phone to carry: MotoQ.

Whatever you do, don't say I'm going to fill the swimming pool, and take a long shower.

BUZZ MEDIA IDEA OF 2006

Lynx Jet body spray won Universal McCann in Sydney the Media Grand Prix at Cannes last year, as well as two Direct golds. Lowe Hunt's controversial multimedia campaign featured a fantasy airline designed for young men seeking sexual encounters. Conventional ads worked alongside specially leased and decked-out jet planes.