Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has secured an inquiry into Australia's media concentration, after half a million people signed a petition calling for a royal commission into the sector.
The petition, championed by former prime minister Kevin Rudd, is the largest ever to be brought before the Australian parliament.
It urges government to establish an inquiry into media ownership in Australia, particularly the influence of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.
"Our democracy depends on diverse sources of reliable, accurate and independent news," it reads.
"But media ownership is becoming more concentrated alongside new business models that encourage deliberately polarising and politically manipulated news.
"We are especially concerned that Australia's print media is overwhelmingly controlled by News Corporation, founded by Fox News billionaire Rupert Murdoch, with around two-thirds of daily newspaper readership.
"This power is routinely used to attack opponents in business and politics by blending editorial opinion with news reporting. Australians who hold contrary views have felt intimidated into silence.
"These facts chill free speech and undermine public debate."
Senator Hanson-Young said the government was unlikely to set up a royal commission into media diversity.
However, she said the Senate should respond to "those half a million Australians plus many more".
"Public interest journalism is more important than ever. We've seen that throughout COVID. And we've seen the media landscape change significantly during this period," Senator Hanson-Young said.
"While more people have been tuning in to find out what's really been going on in their local communities around the country and around the globe sadly, many media agencies have had to close their doors.
"There is a problem with media diversity and the future of journalism in this country so I look forward to being able to chair that inquiry once we've established it and I hope the senate will do its job today and respond to the half a million Australians who are calling on us to look at this."
The Senate agreed to refer the matter to the Environment and Communications References Committee to report back by March 31.
According to the Public Interest Journalism Initiative's Newsroom Mapping Project, almost 170 newsrooms have shut across Australia this year as the coronavirus pandemic took a toll on advertising revenue.
However around 50 new newsrooms have opened up despite the crisis.