Greens leader Bob Brown is about to call a media conference at which he will announce a push for a comprehensive Senate Committee inquiry into media regulation in the wake of the News of the World scandal in the United Kingdom.

In a briefing paper distributed earlier today, the Greens say that while there have been no allegations of illegality by News Limited publications in Australia, “the potential for such behaviour and the breadth of the allegations in the UK indicates it is timely for a closer look at Australia’s media regulation.”

This follows News Limited’s announcement of an internal audit of editorial expenses, which as reported in Crikey today, will have an element of independent oversight, as a result of discussions with the Australian Press Council.

A spokesperson for the Greens told me a few minutes ago that Prime Minister Julia Gillard was understood to be open to the idea of a Senate Committee inquiry, though the terms of reference would have to be negotiated.

However, the Greens have issued their preferred Draft Terms of Reference, which are below. They include the possibility of a “fit and proper person” test in media ownership, and a new statutory authority covering print and broadcast media.

The Australian Press Council, as reported in Crikey today, also intends to push for a converged media oversight body in it’s submission to the Convergence Review.

Here are The Greens’ Draft Terms of Reference.

A Senate Committee on Australia’s media regulation be set up to inquire into and report on:
(a) The potential to expand the jurisdiction of the Australian Communications and Media Authority to include newspapers; and/or;
(b) The need for a independent statutory authority to oversee and enforce the code of ethics for journalists;
(c) The requirement for and content of a ‘fit and proper person’ test for holders of a television or radio licence and for major newspaper proprietors, whether in print or on-line;
(d) The effectiveness of Australia’s current media ownership laws in preventing concentration of media ownership;
(e) The effectiveness of civil and criminal laws relating to the protection of privacy in relation to media reporting; and
(f) any other matters relevant to the above terms of reference.
The Inquiry would report by 21 November 2011.

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