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Australian Media Landscape: Players, Influence, and Power

Ahmad Munawar

Aug 27, 2019

Infographic of the Australian Media Landscape

How is the Australian media landscape faring as the influence of content from anchors and ‘Mad Men’ slowly fade to the background? Meltwater sets out to uncover interesting insights overarching our media landscape and how these insights may influence the opinions of communications professionals, marketers through to academics who actively operate in this landscape.


Trekking the ‘Strayan Media Landscape

What media are we consuming these days? From the ever-burgeoning size of your list on Netflix to subscribing to your weeklys on current affairs, the audience is in the driver’s seat. With the advent of social media and hyperspeed internet connections, traditional media powerhouses are fighting off the increasing challenges of social journalism and content disruptors. Tables have been turned as the audience is now in control of the remote as they democratically choose their desired media outlets. 

The insights in the infographic above are only a glean of the endless myriad of information waiting to be discovered within both mainstream and social media. Imagine the various permutations that researchers can learn and analyse different habits of the audience. Marketers and communicators can harness these insights to better understand consumers and deliver more focused campaigns for their target audiences. Policymakers and public officials can work more qualitative ways of reaching out to the people they serve.

Tip: TikTok is on the rise. Consider working together with Australian TikTokers to stay ahead of your competition!


From The ‘Box’ To Mobile

Mobile technology has taken over so many aspects of our lives. From making a purchase, keeping up-to-date with news checking our accounts and connecting with social networks, our eyes and fingers are constantly tethered to our iPhones and Pixels. Scrolling through news-feeds and clearing notifications become second nature to our mobile experience. People are consuming more content at a greater speed and with less attention due to the limitless amount of information available at their fingertips. This reiterates the importance of headlines and key snippets of info to capture Australians’ attention.

Readership patterns in Australia have changed and in the past couple of years, the trend is speeding up within the media and journalism industries. This trend translates to the increasing migration of readers moving towards online publications. Media conglomerates continue to record high turnover of media professionals such as journalists and copy editors amid the declining sales of the print versions of broadsheets. Despite the modest take-up rate of online subscriptions, Australians are paying less to read their news. Many also turn to free syndicated versions of the news or rely on the alternative form of journalism in the social spaces of Facebook and Twitter. 


Government Takes Control – Or Did It?

This brings us to the changes to the regulations on the media industry in 2017. With the evolving trend of readers moving to alternative news sites and search engine powerhouses like Google and Facebook, the government freed up the media space by lifting the “two out of three” policy – where a media company can only be a dual service provider made up of print, broadcast or radio. This move was introduced to protect the Australian media industry and essentially allowed the merger of two media companies – Fairfax Media and Nine – which currently goes to head-to-head with the juggernaut NewsCorp. Ironically, the abolishment of the legislation to a certain extent sees the massive media companies consolidate power in the industry and effectively weakens, or even kills off, the smaller players.

A recent development is Nine’s takeover bid of Macquarie Media. The takeover was unanimously agreed by the Macquarie board despite a lower-than-expected bid and shareholders were quick to voice their discontent. This consolidation may prove to be a good business strategy for Nine and Macquarie Media as it provides a stable platform for the smaller company to operate but critics would suggest a change in the strategic direction of its content in the future.

Governments play a huge role in how the media landscape remains sustainable, true to its journalistic roots and competitive in the modern media landscape. In view of the double-edged initiative, governments and state-owned media companies should take the forefront in championing the truth while innovating new ways to counter the challenges from the disruptive industry. With technology and funding, researchers and activists can empirically discover the various narratives and discourses that can be found within the reports from media outlets and companies. 

Inferences of how politically aligned a media outlet is to an agenda can be quantitatively and qualitatively tagged and define the shape of the Australian media landscape. For example, despite the ABC being state-funded, it was analytical and debated any party candidate during the recent federal elections. This shows that despite its links to the government, the media outlet stood its ground in the name of good journalism and reportage.


Immersion into the Social Space

Another medium that the Australian media landscape should be focusing on is user-generated content. This is where the conversations are taken out of the hands of the media companies and led by the social activism of the public. Social activism in reporting of issues and current affairs, local and international, become part and parcel of everyday life these days. The various platforms that can be found at the tip of an Australian’s fingers can determine the train of thought of a group of people. 

Take for instance the popular forum Reddit and the amount of user-generated content that can be found from the platform. The trends found within the forum generally reflect the common topics and issues that Australians grapple with. In this current highly contextualised world where the dynamism of the media landscape does not drive the narrative of social conversations, power and influence become almost democratically organic in the mobile grasps of the citizens.

In the past, the media had always been in the driving seat where they are curating the social narratives that get people talking. With the narratives being technologically disrupted by netizen-powered spaces, that power to create those conversations now lie at the fidgety thumbs of Aussies.