CANBERRA, March 12 (Reuters) - Australia's Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced on Tuesday plans to revamp media laws, including a new public interest test on media mergers and acquisitions.
But Conroy delayed a decision on changes to media diversity rules, which currently ban a television licence holder from reaching more than 75 percent of the national audience. He said the proposal would be referred to a parliamentary committee for further examination.
Any change to the diversity ownership rules is likely to prompt a new round of broadcast mergers, with reports that radio and rural television network Southern Cross Media Group Ltd is already in talks over a possible A$4 billion merger with city-based Nine Entertainment.
That deal would mean Southern Cross would sever its existing ties with the Ten television network. The affiliation agreement with Ten is due to expire in June.
On March 4, Southern Cross said it was reviewing a number of strategic options, but at that time mergers with metropolitan television networks were prohibited under media ownership laws.