Oz’s Labor pledges media diversity

Latham sticks by rules disallowing same city ownership

Rupert Murdoch can forget about starting or acquiring a TV network in Australia, and Kerry Packer won’t be able to realize his dream of buying the Fairfax publishing empire, if the Labor Party wins the federal election expected to be held later this year.

Labor leader Mark Latham pledged Tuesday to keep the cross-media rules that prevent anyone from owning a newspaper and TV station in the same city. Latham said Labor wants to encourage media diversity.

John Howard’s conservative Liberal government, which governs in a coalition with the Nationals party, is keen to scrap that reg but has been blocked by Labor and the minority parties in the Senate.

If it wins office, Labor has said it will issue a fourth commercial TV license after a moratorium on new licenses expires at the end of 2006. And it has vowed to ban food and drink ads during children’s programs to combat child obesity.

Latham described Murdoch’s decision to shift News Corp.’s headquarters from Adelaide to the U.S. as inevitable, noting Murdoch has long been a U.S. citizen.

Labor has a slight lead over the government in the opinion polls.

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