First step towards news measurement framework for the digital era

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is set to consult on a ‘news measurement framework’ for diversity and localism in Australia, with the release of a consultation paper in early 2023.

The Albanese Government supports this approach, which is a foundational step in modernising the way news media diversity is measured in Australia.

Government needs robust evidence of the news market – including what news is available to Australians and what they are consuming – to inform media policy interventions and develop measures to support public interest journalism and media diversity.

Traditional measures of media diversity, based on rules in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, currently measure and regulate ownership and control of traditional TV, print and radio. However, they do not assess consumption and popularity of news sources, and they do not account for digital news services.

Australians are increasingly accessing news online, and traditional measures of media diversity fail to account for the availability of digital news or seek to examine its impact on the broader news market.

The ACMA will consult on an alternative ‘news measurement framework’, building on its December 2020 research paper: News in Australia: diversity and localism – News measurement framework.

The framework, developed in collaboration with leading experts in the field, consists of indicators that can be tracked over time and provide a better, more holistic understanding of the contemporary, changing news environment.

It seeks to measure the news market at a national, state and local level, and look at key measures of: 

  • Source diversity – the extent to which the news media market is populated by a diverse array of content providers,
  • Content diversity – the extent to which news media content presents different voices, viewpoints and demographic profiles, and
  • Consumption diversity – the extent to which audiences consume a diverse array of news media content.

The consultation paper, to be released in early 2023, will seek input from a broad range of stakeholders about promoting media diversity and protecting our democratic processes.

The ACMA will also be looking for new research and data sources that may assist in finalising the model.

Stakeholder feedback will help inform the next stages of the ACMA’s work, including potential pilot projects and other measurement activities to be undertaken throughout 2023.

The project will be closely aligned with, and inform, the work of the Department under the Government’s News Media Assistance Program.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:

“The issue of media diversity and news media concentration is a matter of concern to many Australians."

“Australia needs a new framework for measuring news media diversity, one that takes account of the contemporary media environment and changing news media consumption patterns over time."

“This process reinforces the Albanese Government’s expressed intent to pursue a principled, evidence-based and consultative approach to supporting media diversity and public interest journalism in Australia.”