There is little truly independent mainstream media when it comes to daily local newspapers on the NSW North Coast, with the print media dominated as it is by the APN News and Media corporation.
In recent times APN has begun to lift its game with regard to its one-size-fits-all online media presence and, it was noted by alert local residents that the sudden interest in providing more timely (if limited) online news co-incided with the Rupert Murdoch and News Ltd push to introduce paywalls for news on the Internet.
Now we see that APN is definitely aligning itself with both the effort to monetise news and perhaps even with the attack on public broadcasting providing free online news and current events.
Here is an excerpt from ABC TV Media Watch on 19 October 2009:
In fact, the funds are flowing the ABC's way. In the last budget, it received 15 million dollars to create whiz-bang multi-media websites serving regional Australia.
But media company APN, which owns fourteen regional daily newspapers in New South Wales and Queensland, argues that it's risked a lot of its shareholders' money already, trying to do the same thing.
Brendan Hopkins: Of course we're looking to monetise those sites going forward but we've taken, I think, a very brave decision on behalf of our board and behalf of our shareholders that we want to invest ahead of that curve.
Jonathan Holmes: So when you see the government giving the ABC tens of millions of dollars...
Brendan Hopkins: I think it's got to be questioned... I can't believe that the government itself wants to pursue a business model for the ABC, or a model - there's no business involved - a model for the ABC where the cost of the ABC goes up and up and up and up, with all of the public outcry that that will bring, when bona fide commercial operators like ourselves have been investing ahead of the curve in those centres... and if we feel the ABC are competing or trying to compete with us unfairly then we'll go and talk to Mr Samuels at the ACCC and we'll maybe hold them to account.
Jonathan Holmes: In this world of media plenty, that's so different from what it was seventy years ago, is there really a reason for the ABC to exist at all?
Brendan Hopkins: I think now is a good time to have that debate.
— Media Watch interview with Brendan Hopkins (CEO, APN), 16th October, 2009
Once more the APN business model shows just how far removed it is from the idea of a just and fair society with equality of information access which public broadcasting in Australia represents.
Visit the Media Watch video page to watch the extended version of Media Watch's interview with Brendan Hopkins