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Australian government will investigate Facebook and Google as part of media reform

The media industry in Australia will undergo an upheaval after the government's proposal to reform media laws and remove restrictions on media ownership was approved.

The reforms have abolished the "reach rule", which prevented a media owner reaching more than 75% of the population and the "two out of three" rule, which restricted media companies owning newspaper, radio and television stations in the same market.

The government will also look into the impact of technology powerhouses Facebook and Google on journalism as both companies generate advertising revenue through aggregating news content and whether there should be a levy imposed for doing that.

The new laws will force state-owned Australia Broadcasting Corporation to disclose all staff salaries above A$200,000, to provide coverage that is fair and balanced and ensure “competitive neutrality” in broadcasting.

The removal on restrictions on media ownership will allow Lachlan Murdoch, co-chairman of News Corp, which owns radio and newspaper assets in Australia, to win his battle against American broadcaster CBS to take over Ten Network. Previously, the ‘two out of three rule’, restricts companies from owning newspapers, radio and television assets.

The media reforms will also see an introduction of a AUD$60m fund to support regional journalism over three years, increased restrictions on gambling advertising on television, and will allow media companies to merge to cope with the Facebook-Google duopoly.