On 1 July 1975, responsibility for the nation's postal service was vested in the Australian Postal Commission, and for telecommunications in the Australian Telecommunications Commission; previously these functions had been administered by the Department of the Postmaster General. Local and long-distance telephone services are rated highly. As of 2000 there were 10 million mainline telephones in use, about one for every two Australians. The same year, there were about 8.6 million cellular phones in use nationwide. Nearly 99% of the total service is automatic.
The government administers and supervises broadcasting through the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which operates a nationwide noncommercial radio and television service; the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, which licenses and regulates commercial broadcasters; and the Special Broadcasting Service, which prepares and broadcasts multilingual radio and television programs. Federal government stations are financed from budget revenues, and the private commercial stations derive their income from business advertising. As of 1999 there were 262 AM and 345 FM radio stations and 104 television stations. In 2000, there were 1,908 radios and 738 television sets for every 1,000 people. In 2001, there were 603 Internet service providers serving 10 million subscribers.
In general, news is presented straightforwardly, and political criticism is considered fair and responsible. The Australian , one of only two national newspapers, was established in 1964 and is published in all state capitals. It is independent and had an estimated daily circulation in 1999 of 153,000. The other national daily, the Australian Financial Review, had a Monday– Friday average circulation of 78,000 in the same year.
Other leading dailies and their estimated 2002 circulation figures are listed in the following table:
|Daily Telegraph-Mirror (NSW)||NA||442,000|
|Sydney Morning Herald||Conservative||231,510|
Major Sunday newspapers include the Sun-Herald (613,000) and the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney, and the Sunday Mail in Brisbane (598,070).
The major news agency is the Australian Associated Press, founded in 1935; it has been associated with Reuters since 1946. Many international news services have bureaus in Sydney.
Though the Australian constitution does not have specific guarantees of freedom of expression, the High Court has, in two decisions, declared that freedom of political discourse is implied. The government is said to respect all such rights in practice.