As if Senator Conroy’s previous secret meeting with the the Australian Christian Lobby has not already caused plenty of controversy the minister is at it again holding secret meeting with special interest groups.
This time Conroy has gone snow-skiing with Seven’s billionaire owner Kerry Stokes. Innocent enough at first glance, why shouldn’t he be able to have a social life after all. But when he later announces huge huge benefits for TV networks, that’s more than just a little suspicious.
The meeting came a month before the Victorian-based Senator Conroy cut licence fees paid by Seven, Ten and Nine for the next two years, depriving the Government of about $250 million in revenue.
The decision was controversial because Senator Conroy said it was to protect Australian content – but it included no binding requirement for the networks to spend the money on Australian content.
Instead, it went directly to their bottom line.
Both Mr Stokes and Senator Conroy refused to say what was discussed.
This is the same Senator who argues that the Government Censorship Regime will have propper oversight, the same department that has exemption from Freedom-of-Information requests. The minister has also called for a Piracy Code of Conduct.
The biggest problem for copyright holders at present is that they can’t easily access the contact details of people who are caught pirating content through protocols like BitTorrent, which advertise their IP address, but nothing else. ISPs do not give up the details of which customer was using what IP address at particular times without a court order.
One of the key concerns about the Government having the authority to control content and speech on the Internet is that special interest groups will be lining up to have there personal distastes eradicated, in fact they already are. Do big media already have Conroy feeding out of their hand because it sure seems that way.
Can we really trust a man who looks after special interest groups at the expense of everyone else? What shenanigans will Conroy be upto next?