P.M. BRIEFING : Australia Cuts Alien TV Control

From Times Wire Services

Australia today announced it would limit foreign ownership of commercial television and radio stations to 20%, despite arguments by the major commercial television networks that it would undermine their financial strength.

Communications Minister Kim Beazley ignored last-minute pleas from network executives and closed a loophole in existing regulations which had allowed overseas interests to control up to 50% of stations through indirect holdings.

Beazley said the government believed it was vital the stations be kept in Australian hands because of their potential influence on political opinion and the country’s cultural identity.

Both Channel 9, owned by Alan Bond’s Bond Media Ltd., and Channel 7, in the hands of receivers after the collapse of Christopher Skase’s Qintex group, had regarded overseas funds as essential to their continued survival. The third commercial network, Channel 10, is 43% owned by overseas interests.