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News Limited Scandal

When I hear someone say that things are different here than in country X, my reaction is always: how? We have a major scandal in the United Kingdom over bribery and phone and internet hacking by the media. The company involved also operates in Australia. What differences are there between there and here?

Competition The UK is a small, densely populated country with a fine communications infrastructure. In the UK over a century ago, newspapers could be printed overnight, loaded on trains and and distributed across the whole country. This created an intensely competitive newspaper market.

This was not the case in Australia. Huge distances mean that even today it is hard to do. Today papers are loaded onto a plane but it is still no simple matter to get the interstate papers. Here in Canberra, the ''Canberra Times'' arrives on your doorstep at 0530 each day but the interstate papers never can, and may not make it until the afternoon if there is a fog. By the 1960s the technology was available to print simultaneously in multiple cities, and Rupert launched ''The Australian'' as the flagship of News Limited; but by then parochialism had set in and it is not the leading newspaper in any city, and in fact does not make a profit. However, this also gave them for many years a rich vein of classified advertising. Also, they do not face local competition. Only the large Sydney and Melbourne have more than one daily paper. What they were for many years is a cash cow.

[to be continued]

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