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ABC not competing with News Corp: minister

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April 11, 2018

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield appeared before a Senate hearing in Canberra.

The communications minister doesn't believe the ABC competes with News Corp because the public broadcaster doesn't chase advertising dollars.

The Turnbull government has launched a "competitive neutrality" review to look at whether the ABC and SBS operate on a level playing field with commercial media companies.

The inquiry was part of a deal it did with One Nation to pass media ownership reforms through parliament.

Minister Mitch Fifield told a Senate committee on Wednesday several commercial media organisations thought the review was timely and appropriate.

Asked whether the ABC competed with News Corp, the minister said: "The ABC is not a competitor to News Corp in that the ABC doesn't take advertising."

He thought competition for advertising dollars was a key measure of whether media organisations were rivals.

Labor senator Kristina Keneally commented the two organisations were presumably competing for viewers or readers.

"I guess obviously they both present themselves as offerings to the consumer so they provide consumer choice," the minister responded.

He also rejected Labor senators' suggestions funding cuts and criticisms from himself and other government MPs amounted to a sustained attack on the ABC.

Senator Fifield said he and other members of parliament felt comfortable "offering feedback about ABC activities from time to time, some of it positive, some of it also taking issue" because the broadcaster enjoyed legislated independence from government.

"It would be passing strange if there was a view that every member of the community and every member of parliament was entitled to offer a view on particular activities of the ABC apart from the minister concerned," he said.

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