In 2007, the Howard government relaxed media ownership laws. Although there are still limits on cross media ownership, media companies can now own more than one television station, newspaper and radio station in the same broadcast area. Under the new laws, there must be no fewer than five independent media groups in metropolitan markets and four in regional markets.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is the government body which makes sure that companies comply with the law. The Australian Communication and Media will oversee safeguards to ensure diversity and local content, including ensuring transactions comply with the minimum number of media groups requirements.
Traditional foreign media ownership laws have been abandoned. However, the media is regarded as a ‘sensistive sector’ under the Foreign Investment Policy. Proposals by foreign companies to invest in the Australian media must be approved by the Federal Treasurer.