Prime Media Group chairman John Hartigan has used today’s AGM to take an almighty swipe at Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull for failing to take action over media regulation, warning that a massive public policy is looming.
The former News Corp CEO took over as boss of the regional TV group in May when the late Paul Ramsay stepped down. The company posted a net profit of $33.9 million in 2013/14 with 3.4% EBITDA growth.
In his first major address to investors, Hartigan said that while Malcolm Turnbull’s review into media regulation and reform had industry-wide support, “regrettably the Abbott government has yet to introduce any substantive reforms to address the problems inherent in broadcasting legislation and the media industry more widely”.
“This is in spite of the fact that genuine concerns are being expressed broadly – and loudly – within the industry,” he said.
Hartigan said the concept of “reach” was outdated in the internet age and that concerns about diversity of ownership and voices were at odds with the reality of a competitive environment. He said “traditional” Australian media is being put at an increasing disadvantage by the lack of change to media laws.
“To put it bluntly, the Federal government must find the courage to dismantle the current legislative framework sooner rather than later or risk being the architect of a public policy failure,” he said.
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