An 'unacceptable attack on freedom of speech'

CRITICISM of the Federal Government's sweeping media reforms is mounting with protestors taking their opposition to Communication Minister Stephen Conroy's office.

The Gillard Government unveiled its plans to instate a new public interest advocate to oversee the Australian Press Council and to create a public interest test for Australian media.

Other media reforms include permanent allocation of a portion of channel A to support community television as well a permanent 50% reduction to licence fees for commercial TV broadcasters.

Members of the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance and Free Speech Australia converged on Mr Conroy's Victorian electoral office on Sunday to protest against an "unprecedented and unacceptable attack on freedom of speech".

"By creating a de facto licensing and censorship regime, and instituting a test of "public interest" - ie "political interest" - on media ownership, these laws attack the very foundation of a free society," Australian Taxpayers' Alliance executive director Tim Andrews said.

"Freedom of expression and freedom of the media is vital to any flourishing democracy, and these proposals shall reduce Australia to the category of tin-pot dictatorships"

A series of bills will be introduced this year to legislate the government's media reforms, included a specific bill to create a new press standards model.

Sunday's rally co-coordinator Tarun Singh labelled the move an attack on the very foundation of democracy.

"It is time we stood up to protect our very basic right: to have an opinion and be able to express it without the fear of persecution," she said.

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