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Rupert Murdoch the most normal media tycoon I know, says Malcolm Turnbull

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Abbott supports media changes

The Prime Minister cautiously endorses relaxing media ownership regulations, saying it's important they evolve to match the changing environment. Nine news.

PT0M0S 620 349

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has backed further deregulation of the media industry as he praised media mogul Rupert Murdoch as the ''most normal'' proprietor he knows.

The current rules prevent metropolitan free-to-air television networks from merging with regional affiliates. The so-called ''two-out-of-three rule'', also prevents a single entity owning more than two of a newspaper, TV station and radio licence in the same market. Mr Turnbull held a two-hour meeting with media executives last week.

"Rupert is the most normal of the lot": Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"Rupert is the most normal of the lot": Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Rob Homer

It is understood Ten Network Holdings and Nine Entertainment Co argued for the removal of the regional reach rules and the two-out-of-three rule. Mr Murdoch's News Corp is also believed to have supported the scrapping of the two-out-of-three rule, with the Seven Network less enthusiastic about the reform.

Mr Turnbull said he was ''very sympathetic'' to deregulation of media ownership. ''Why, in an age when the internet has become the super platform … which everyone has access to … why do we need to have platform-specific ownership rules dealing with newspapers and radio and television? That in an increasingly … smaller part of the media landscape.''

''One of the big differences between my approach to this and [former communications minister] Stephen Conroy's, is that Conroy and the Labor Party saw the arrival of the internet as an opportunity for more regulation and less freedom in the media.

Straightforward: Rupert Murdoch.

Straightforward: Rupert Murdoch. Photo: AFP

''My view is the arrival of the internet, and the additional diversity and avenues for competition that it brings, really says we should have less regulation and more freedom.''

Prime Minister Tony Abbott gave qualified backing to Mr Turnbull when he told reporters on Sunday the government had a ''deregulationist instinct'' when it came to media.

''Look, we are consulting with people in the sector,'' Mr Abbott said. ''Our mindset is always to make rules less rather than more onerous, but let's wait and see where those consultations go.''

Mr Turnbull also hosed down suggestions he had described Mr Murdoch as a ''demented plutocrat,'' arguing the News Corp head is the ''most normal'' media mogul he knows. ''I've known a lot of media moguls, right? A lot of them. And let me tell you something, in terms of normality, Rupert is the most normal of the lot,'' Mr Turnbull told Sky News on Sunday.

''When you compare him to Conrad Black, to Kerry Packer to Bob Maxwell, Jimmy Goldsmith … Rupert is a very, very straightforward, normal person.''

Mr Turnbull made the comments when asked to explain his use of the phrase ''demented plutocrat'' when he launched The Saturday Paper last month in Sydney.

During the speech Mr Turnbull quipped of publisher Morry Schwartz: ''You are not some demented plutocrat pouring more and more money into a loss-making venture that is just going to peddle your opinions.''

While Mr Turnbull has insisted he was referring to US newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, some have seen this as a dig at Mr Murdoch. The Communications Minister said he was shocked his comments were misinterpreted.

with Jake Mitchell

75 comments

  • A promised pledge, an act of gratitude, a taxpayer funded advertisement....One finds it curious The Bullturner, in his haste, has suddenly found cause to promote his Tribe's National Patron.

    Commenter
    Geronimo
    Location
    Yippee Yi Yo
    Date and time
    March 10, 2014, 7:52AM
    • Thank you Judith Ireland.
      I watched the interview with Malcolm Turnbull on 'Australian Agenda'; in my opinion, Turnbull's response to the "suggestion he had described Mr Murdoch as a ''demented plutocrat,''' was quite lighthearted and unperturbed - he gave context to his comment 'demented plutocrat'.
      I admit to being impressed by Turnbull, and his performance yesterday did nothing to change my opinion of him - articulate, considered, witty and at times self-deprecating. He has no equal in this Parliament.

      Commenter
      Howe Synnott
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 8:12AM
    • Howe Synnott March 10, 2014, 8:12AM

      All due respect, Howe, but Turnbull is a charmer. With Turnbull it's always a matter of beware the style doesn't overcome the substance.

      Malcolm is prone to gaffs in respect to substance - remember Godwin Grech and utegate?

      That he's smoother than cream in resiling doesn't give his 'here's why I didn't mean what I said' withdrawal any more credibility.

      Commenter
      BillR
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 8:56AM
    • Wouldn't have anything to do with Turnbull ingratiating himself with Murdoch so that when Abbott's leadership self destructs Murdoch will nominate Turnbull as the only sensible option would it?

      Commenter
      rext
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 9:16AM
    • C'mon guys, its all comedy with Turnbull. He's having a tug. No-one in their right mind would call a relationship with a rampaging bull elephant blasting mendacity and greed as "balanced".

      In any case, he didn't have to say anything. Murdoch says it all himself. His editors think up catchy slogans all day for his readers, and the best ones they give to Abbott.

      Commenter
      Axis
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 9:40AM
    • What a blatantly undisguised attempt to sell Murdoch back to Australia (and to give him the ABC). I have absolutely no respect for you now, Malcolm Turnbull.
      Murdoch is NOT an Australian - he couldn't get rid of his citizenship fast enough when it suited him. Seems that now the UK and the US have declared Murdoch problematic, he wants to come crawling back to Australia...
      Don't be ridiculous. Murdoch is NOT good for the Australian people - and if you support him Malcolm, then neither are you.

      Commenter
      Jump
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 10:05AM
    • @BillR really,

      "Remember Godwin Grech and utegate" it is almost certain that this was managed by and used to discredit MT in the eyes of the centre and left leaning Liberals to win the leadership for the right wing fascists. Dirty tricks are used by all, both internally and against thy "real" foes. The worse use is by the media as seen in the last years of the Gillard/Rudd governments.

      The "Australian" is now just a mouth piece for the far right and big business to lay the groundwork, provide skewed public input, falsely reflect engineered outrage on all who oppose their chosen man and direct propaganda as a ruthless dagger to target worry some providers of "other" opinion. Remember "Abbott would do anything to win power"

      Commenter
      VonBB
      Location
      Clivesland
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 10:06AM
    • Fair go - Mr Turnbull said Mr Murdoch is the "most normal" media proprietor he knows. This is not the same as saying Mr Murdoch is "normal" as far as humanity as a whole is concerned.

      Robert Maxwell, Conrad Black, Randolph Hearst; not much "normal" about that lot.

      Commenter
      David Arthur
      Location
      Queensland
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 10:43AM
    • Surprise, surprise.....the libs lord backer M wants to buy up all the media, and Malcom thinks this is a good idea....expect many more odd pictures of laborites in strange uniforms on the front pages of newspapers in the future.....and lord backer M to suddenly turn up as the new Governor General in the future?

      Commenter
      Leopold
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 11:09AM
    • Howe Synnott,

      I invite you to follow the technical blogs on how your hero is handling the Coalition’s Broadband Network. You will find very little support for your views there.

      Commenter
      RichardU
      Location
      Epping NSW
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 11:32AM

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