The Coalition's divide between town and country

THE divide between regional and city-based Coalition MPs is threatening to rear its head again, this time on media ownership and local news coverage.

Just weeks after Prime Minister Tony Abbott accepted The Nationals's push for drought funding; the battle in government ranks is set to move to the media sphere.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull sparked the latest debate, after saying he would be sympathetic to loosening the government's grip on media ownership.

Mr Turnbull said on Sky News on Sunday the rise of the internet and diversity of voices online showed Australia should have "less regulation and more freedom" in the nation's media markets.

His comments followed a high-level meeting Mr Turnbull held late last week with media executives, talking ownership, local news coverage and regulation.

But Nationals MPs have privately expressed their concerns about any changes to media laws, fearing a roll-back of local news coverage on regional television stations.

Current caps on ownership, of much relevance to regional areas, prevent one group owning two of three major outlets - across print, radio and television.

But those caps and changes to how much local news regional TV stations must produce each week could also be considered, although the government has not confirmed any such moves.


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