According to the Internet Industry Association (IIA), the public interest test to be applied by the proposed Public Interest Media Advocate, which has been likened to a government appointed media czar, could suppress incentives for the development of new on-line media businesses in Australia.
The public interest test to be applied by the PIMA is:
• the change of control will not result in a substantial lessening of diversity of control of registered news media voices; or
• the change of control is likely to result in a benefit to the public, and that benefit outweighs the detriment to the public constituted by any lessening of diversity of control of registered news media voices.
“If you were an Internet entrepreneur in Australia and you wanted to build a new on-line media business, the media diversity rules could prevent you from divesting your successful business to an existing news media company unless it is possible to demonstrate to the PIMA that there was a public benefit in doing so,” said Peter Lee, Chief Executive of the IIA.
“This approach does not provide incentive for new investment in on-line media that would promote a greater diversity of voices across a variety of new platforms and applications. In fact it may suppress any incentive for future new on-line investment in Australia.”
According to the IIA, diversity should not be enforced by new unnecessary regulation but encouraged by providing incentives for businesses to invest.