Media pitch tents near PM's happy campers

The Australian Financial Review | Will Glasgow | September 7 2015

Prime Minister Tony Abbott's happy campers return to Federal Parliament in Canberra on Monday for their second spring session.

They will be closely followed by operatives from John Hartigan's Prime, Andrew Lancaster's WIN and Grant Blackley's Southern Cross Austereo.

We'll have to wait and see whether their chief nemesis, Seven billionaire Kerry Stokes,sends in his lobbying army. He may just use the telephone.

The regional media organisations, as you well know,are desperate to change regulation they argue is redundant and hurting their businesses.They want the "two out of three"and "reach" rules scuttled.

As you also know well.it has been made clear to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull by Abbott that media reform that migh tupset billionaire media moguls is not going to happen.

The issue has split media businesses into two camps. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is siding with Stokes in opposing the changes while our employer Fairfax and David Gyngell's Nine back the regionals.

Which is all old news.

But what is interesting-to us at least is the escalation of this campaign.

The regionals are targeting the increasingly nervous 36CoalitionMP's who would lose their seats if there was a 7.5 per cent swing against the government.

These three dozen will be their cross hairs,like foxes on a sheep farm.

An ad campaign with former deputy prime minister(now full-time trainspotter)Tim Fischer is going to escalate on regional TV and radio after it is launched in Canberra on Tuesday. The thrust of it is:without a change to the rules, locaI news jobs a re at risk something that terrifies regional MPs.

Behind closed doors, these MPs will be told that the best way to protect local news bulletins is to remove the regulation while installing local content provisions on the (likely merged) businesses that remain.