Everyone from politicians to academics now agrees that public communications systems play a vital role in society. It is through the news media in particular that citizens are able to stay informed and play an active role in the construction of their democratic world. It is argued, however that the media is too influential on public opinion; and it is the proprietors of the industry making all of the decisions. It is in relation to this debate that it becomes crucial to analyse the critical political economy of the news media. The critical political economy being the power and influence exerted by media owners, government and culture.
News is the reportings of recent facts, or news otherwise not known. (Oxford Dictionary,1992:74) Originally, news was broadcasted on radio, always with one white, male presenter reading the entire bulletin. 'The Australian Broadcasting Commission felt that in those days to use pictures, was to descend to the levels of the popular press.'(Mason
& Lean, 1992:42)Today, on the other hand, findings from various surveys conclude that television is the most popular news source and the one in which the majority of the public lay their trust.
In terms of television media as a whole, it is the news and current affairs programs which rate so highly. Nine News/ Sunday rated number one in Melbourne's top 10 programs on May 2nd, followed by Nine News/ Saturday rating 3rd, and Nine News/ Weeknights rating 10th. (Warneke, 2002:10) It is evident that news and current affairs programs are the main source of ratings in commercial television, with a constant emphasis being placed upon them to upstage their rival stations. It has been debated that perhaps 'the most obvious consequence of channel seven losing much of it's local identity, was due to the sharp decline in numbers watching...