Possible Green Light for Telstra Media Spree

The Federal Government has all but
permitted national telecommunications carrier Telstra to buy into
Australia’s media industry.

Amid speculation that Telstra is considering purchasing media assets to
support its Internet interests, Minister for Communications, Information
Technology and the Arts
, Senator Richard Alston, said that the government
would not hinder such a move.

“Telstra has enormous interests across the field. Is anyone seriously
suggesting that we should somehow suddenly restrict Telstra from investing
in media?” Alston said. “I think it is fair to say that new
technology is always going to be pushing the boundaries of regulatory
restrictions.”

Telstra has established a history in media investments, after purchasing
and subsequently selling a 10 per cent stake in the Seven national
television network a decade ago. It also currently owns 50 per cent of
Australian pay TV company Foxtel.

Alston said that there would “need to be a change of attitude
across the political spectrum” before the Federal Senate would consider
such ambitions by Telstra. He added though that as people gain information
from a variety of media sources, there should not be the same concerns over
control over knowledge as when cross-media ownership was investigated by
the Federal Senate in the early 1990s.

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