On 11 November 2020, the Senate referred an inquiry into the state of media diversity, independence and reliability in Australia to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee for report by 31 March 2021, with the following terms of reference:
The state of media diversity, independence and reliability in Australia and the impact that this has on public interest journalism and democracy, including:
- the current state of public interest journalism in Australia and any barriers to Australian voters’ ability to access reliable, accurate and independent news;
- the effect of media concentration on democracy in Australia;
- the impact of Australia’s media ownership laws on media concentration in Australia;
- the impact of significant changes to media business models since the advent of online news and the barriers to viability and profitability of public interest news services;
- the impact of online global platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter on the media industry and sharing of news in Australia;
- the barriers faced by small, independent and community news outlets in Australia;
- the role that a newswire service plays in supporting diverse public interest journalism in Australia;
- the state of local, regional and rural media outlets in Australia;
- the role of government in supporting a viable and diverse public interest journalism sector in Australia; and
- any other related matters.
The closing date for submissions is 11 December 2020.
On 11 December 2020, the reporting date was extended to 4 August 2021.
On 3 August 2021, the reporting date was extended to 15 November 2021.
The committee has agreed to postpone the public hearing scheduled for Friday 13 August 2021. A revised hearing date will be advised in due course.
On 29 October 2021, the Committee presented a progress report recommending that the Senate grant an extension of time to report until 23 November 2021.
On 22 November 2021, the reporting date was extended to 30 November 2021.
On 29 November 2021, the reporting date was extended to 9 December 2021.