Independent Media and Democratic Rights

WBT publishes this important debate about Independent media from 1977. Has anything really changed since then? Only four (4) months after this forum the state government banned political street marches and public assembly.


Mr Bruce Dickson, speaking at a recent forum at the University of Queensland said that many current affairs programs were not interested in getting across people’s views.   

“They always have to choose a ‘good’ television angle-if they let you on at all – and they are more interested in setting up a conflict situation for public entertainment than educating or informing people,” he said.

Mr Dickson said that although we are given the impression that minority viewpoints are presented fairly, this is not the case. ”   

It is very easy for the mass media to distort the true ideas of women, Blacks and migrants,” he said.

Free Media says that a partial solution to these problems lies in the concepts of community access radio and cable television.

“The thing about cable television unaffected by the weather be is that apart from remaining cause the signals are not transmitted through the air, it is a two-way communication.   

“You can receive a variety “You can receive a variety of programs and you can also transmit your own programs right back down the line.” .

Free Media sees that the main thing wrong with the mass media in Australia is commercial involvement in the news gathering and dissemination process.   Mr Dickson said: “There is a conflict of interest between the operation of a business to make economic gains for shareholders and the media’s function of giving the public information, and educating and entertaining them,”   

Thus Free Media sees that the current inquiry into broadcasting which suggests that commercial interests have a policy of self-regulation, will not work satisfactorily. Inquiry a farce . “

It’s a farce-this means that commercial television will be free to program and produce in a way which serves their own purposes without regard to their proper function of serving the public.

“The mass media is a major influence in our lives-especially since the advent of radio and television-and at the mory1ent we have no control over it and very little access to it.

“It is very hard to get access to the media-you must have a . title or set yourself up as an expert in some particular area, otherwise you don’t qualify under the rules that have been set up for ‘good’ television.”

Radha Rouse
(formerly Semper Floreat)
May 1977

Thanks to Andrew Bartlett who uncovered this archive from Fryer Library UQ.

Right to March 22 Sept 1977