News Ltd CEO Kim Williams vows to fight media censorship in the High Court if necessary
NEWS Limited chief executive Kim Williams has upped the stakes in the media regulation debate, declaring he is willing to go to the High Court to protect free speech.
Speaking at an SA Press Club lunch in Adelaide yesterday, Mr Williams outlined a case against both "Finkelstein" and "Convergence" reviews now before Federal Government.
He said the "preposterous and foolish" Finkelstein recommendations should be treated with caution.
The Finkelstein recommendation for press standards to be overseen by a super regulator was "prima facie bad" because journalists could be fined or jailed with no right of appeal.
When asked how far he was willing to take the company in the fight against the proposed regulations should they be implemented, Mr Williams was unwavering in his response.
"We'll take the matter as far we can - I'll take it to the High Court. If people intend to have this stoush ... let's have it."
Promoting a "consumer first" model of reporting, Mr Williams said it should be the public, not the government, who set the news agenda. "Consumers anoint the winners, not governments or regulators," Mr Williams said.
"Australians don't need dangerous new laws to give them greater media diversity; they just need a mobile device, or a television or a laptop.
"We should be celebrating this tidal wave of change and freedom of information rather than running to hide behind new rules to try to bring it under some tired and inevitably futile form of old-fashioned, unthinking control."
Mr Williams also endorsed the company's print products and said despite the changing media world, News Limited was well positioned to move forward.
Mr Williams also spoke about recent announcements at News Limited, publisher of The Advertiser, to streamline the company's operations into a "one city, one newsroom" model.
"News Limited has announced a plan to put the customer front and centre of everything we do - to invest and innovate and streamline our organisational structure so that it is fit for purpose for today's world."