After being extended to take further evidence, Australia’s Senate inquiry into media diversity has been extended again... and again.
The report – postponed from Tuesday, November 23 – has been given a further week, On November 29, the reporting date was extended to December 9.
Called in November 2020, the inquiry into “the state of media diversity, independence and reliability in Australia” was referred to the Senate environment and communications references committee – chaired by Senator Sarah Hanson-Young – for report by March 31, 2021. The reporting date has now been extended four times, to August 4, and then August 15 – following a hearing scheduled for two days earlier, but also postponed. The November 23 date followed a progress report on October 29 recommending an extension.
News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson addressed the inquiry by video last month after members had considered calling Lachlan Murdoch to give evidence. Questions by Hanson-Young about News’ presentation of near-identical front pages on several of its print newspapers led to her being attacked on News Corp’s Sky News Australia over the question of what constituted diversity. Sky News digital editor Jack Houghton (pictured) said she had “absolutely no idea” what media diversity was, because she had focused on a single medium.
Sky presented the inquiry as an attack on itself, and claimed the “overwhelming majority” of people got their news digitally, echoing Thomson’s remarks.
Houghton quoted a University of Canberra report which showed “where mainstream Australians’ views lay on the political spectrum” and claimed skynews.com.au was the closest to this.