Australia's media elite seems to be engaged in a campaign against the NBN. How things have changed. In 2006 The Oz reported rupert Murdoch's comment that;
When you have broadband - real broadband, not the type they're talking about here - where you get, say, 20Mbps of data into your home, it changes everything. People then spend a lot of time with their laptops and computers. In Australia we only have a couple of million people on broadband and they don't even get 1Mb. I think it's a disgrace.
He went on that;
the Government and Telstra should be spending $10 billion or $12 billion on it to reach every town in Australia; they do it in Japan, they do it in South Korea, we should be able to do it here. We are being left behind and we will pay for it.
James Packer was also reported to have been equally critical. In that speech Packer said
Our services are totally dependent on this infrastructure. We need faster broadband speeds in order to stay competitive to the rest of the world and that is starting to be understood, I believe, by all stakeholders.
Why has Rupert changed his mind? Is it because the internet is now seen as more threat than friend? Or is it because he's shaping to offer to go soft on the NBN for some media law reform?
The various recent forays including the move on TEN, the presence of Seven in CMH, the strange position of Bruce Gordon in both WIN and TEN, the consolidation of radio, the Seven WAN transaction and the continuing uncertainty at Fairfax would seem to suggest that a group of key players really expect the rules on ownership to change soon.
I don’t think for a moment that there has yet been a deal done with Government. It feels far more like these are the pre-emptive transactions before the proposition is put to Government that the rules must change with the NBN, that globalised content and the long tail mean the existing rules are already rendered obsolete.
It really looks like Seven is preparing to acquire Fairfax and that News is preparing to acquire TEN (more likely that a News Corp/Murdoch family/partially listed company will put together the News print assets and TEN). Its just that the players have decided that they’ll place the Government in an impossible position first rather than negotiate permission.
Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est