Media boss Kerry Stokes has attacked the Federal Government's planned media reforms and signalled he would be prepared to give up tens of millions of dollars in licence fee cuts if the plans were shelved.
The criticism is another major blow to Julia Gillard's hotly contested proposed changes to media rules and comes as key independents signal they will likely block the laws in Parliament.
It is understood that Mr Stokes, chairman of Seven West Media, which owns _The West Australian _ and Channel 7, has told Federal ministers he no longer supports any aspect of the Government's media reform package.
Mr Stokes is known to be willing to give up free-to-air television licence fee cuts offered as a carrot to the networks as part of the media reforms in return for all the proposed changes being junked.
"He feels the price of television industry reforms - print media regulation and the public interest test - is just too high," a source close to Mr Stokes said.
"He believes press freedom is something that cannot be put up for sale. He is vehement about regulation of the press and violently opposed to these proposals."
The licence fee reductions were thought to have been worth about $150 million a year for the three free-to-air networks.
Mr Stokes is also believed to be angry about suggestions made by Southern Cross Media Group chairman Max Moore-Wilton, who claimed the Seven and Ten networks were acting in "naked selfinterest" and had been lobbying against the abolition of laws that might prevent TV station mergers.
The Government is considering dumping the 75 per cent reach rule, which is designed to stop a media company dominating a rural area.
Southern Cross has been in merger talks with the Nine Network - a $4 billion deal that could go ahead only if the 75 per cent rule were dumped.It is understood Seven has not sought changes to the 75 per cent rule.
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.