Competition in the Australian printed-newspaper marketplace is set for a major boost in a project to be announced today by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
Mr Shorten (pictured with a prototype of the new paper) will unveil the $300 million, five-year plan during a keynote address to the Association of Right-wing Slanted Editors in Melbourne.
Despite being in clearly hostile territory – ARSE is an organisation set up and controlled by the world’s most powerful media mogul in history, the Australian-born Rupert Murdoch – Mr Shorten is expected not to take a backward step as he outlines the plan for a government-owned series of “people’s papers” in cities where News Corp Australia or any other media mogul has a clear or effective monopoly.
The Bug has obtained exclusive access to Mr Shorten’s speech and can reveal:
. The people’s papers will be set up initially in Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Perth, with content to be sourced from in-house journalists and the ABC
. Suitable business names (believed to be centred around The People’s Voice) have been registered and trademark action commenced.
. The people’s papers will be published in hardcopy form with midweek and weekend editions to start with, accompanied by a net presence without a paywall.
. Each paper will be guided by an independent panel to ensure their political coverage at a federal, state and local level is consistent with the principles of fair and balanced news reporting. Government interference will be made a criminal offence
. Federal government spending will be directed towards these taxpayer-owned mastheads, and state Labor governments will be urged to follow suit.
. Profits from the newspapers will flow back to federal government coffers for funding government initiatives across the board.
The Bug understands the four papers will employ a total of more than 200 journalists, advertising and clerical staff, and print sheds owned by the big existing players will be forced, by legislation if necessary, to provide press time at fair rates.
The plan will be extended to Sydney and Melbourne if, as many Labor people fear, the former Fairfax papers now owned by Nine – the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age – move further to the right and fail to provide fair balance to News Corp Australia publications. They’ve already given up on the Australian Financial Review.
A senior Labor minister told The Bug Rupert Murdoch had to bear total responsibility for the need for Labor’s “people’s papers project”.
“Are we worried that Murdoch is going to come at us big time over this? Why would we be? Could he be any more anti-Labor than he and his brown-nosing writers, columnists and editors already are?”
The above article is complete and utter BULLSHIT. Crying shame, really.