Conroy’s reforms to reshape the media landscape: Midday roundup

Australian media outlets could be facing a new regulator to oversee print and online news content and media company mergers could be subject to a public interest test, if a federal government media reform package is passed.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday announced the long-awaited media reforms in response to the Convergence Review and the Finkelstein Inquiry.

Some in the media have responded with outrage. Journalist from The Australian, Mark Day, and media commentator James Paterson referred to the potential changes as “a dog’s breakfast” and a method to “to punish and rein in the federal government’s critics in the media”.

As part of the package, a Public Interest Media Advocate would be established to decide whether media acquisitions should be approved. But News Limited chief executive Kim Williams has said such an advocate would be “beholden to the government”.

The changes would also give journalists privacy exemptions, authorise the PIMA to appoint an independent self-regulatory body to deal with complaints and give free-to-air networks a permanent reduction in licence fees.

NAB’s digital focus to save the bank $800 million

National Australia Bank’s big strategy announcement this morning revealed the bank will reduce the size of its branches and cut its product line as it focuses on online development, producing $800 million in savings from 2018.

NAB intends to halve its products on offer to retail and businesses customers to under 100 and improve its technology to reflect changing customer habits and the increasingly digitised economy.

NAB chief executive Cameron Clyne made the announcement this morning as he also said he wants to allow customers to better serve themselves, offering more digital banking opportunities.

Shares open flat

Australian shares have opened flat again this morning, with minor losses incurred as the value of banking stocks fell, outweighing gains from the mining companies.

At midday, the S&P/ASX200 benchmark was at 5107.7, down 10.2 points at midday.

NAB shares fell 2.28% to $30.83, down $0.71, following its strategy announcement this morning.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed slightly higher last night, up 2.77 points to 14450.06.

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