Supporting Media Diversity: Nordic Lessons

Australia can learn from Scandinavian measures to widen the range of views available for the public.

Australia’s media caters to a population of 25 million, which is about the same as the combined population of the Nordic nations. The similarities end there.

Australia’s media ownership is among the most concentrated in the developed world. Citing data from an international collaborative research project1, the report produced in 2012 by the Independent Inquiry into the Media and Media Regulation made several startling observations about concentration of media ownership in Australia:

  • In 2012, Australia was the only country of the 26 surveyed in which the leading press company—News Ltd, at 56%—accounted for more than half of daily [newspaper] circulation;
  • The share of circulation held by the top two press companies was 86% per cent; and
  • The top four media companies together accounted for 99% of daily circulation.

For comparison, the next most concentrated market was Switzerland, where the top four companies accounted for 76% of circulation.

Outside the world of newspapers, the situation is somewhat better: Australian TV, radio and online benefit from the presence of the ABC and SBS. Even so, a 2016 study placed Australia 13th out of 18 Western countries for per capita public funding of public broadcasting, and 15th for funding as a share of total government expenditures.

Full report