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Australian Senate Passes New Media Laws


The Australian government's new media ownership laws have passed through the Senate, and second-quarter earnings of one of India's leading software companies have exceeded expectations.

The Australian Senate has passed new regulations that allow more foreign investment and mergers in the country's media sector.

Restrictions on foreign ownership in the media industry will be removed. Under current rules, foreign investors are barred from owning more than 15 percent of a television station or 25 percent of a newspaper publisher.

The new laws also relax rules that made it illegal for newspaper, radio and television companies in the same city from holding more than 15 percent of each other. A regulator will ensure that each state capital city market has at least five media owners and each regional market at least four. To protect diversity of opinion, one owner will be allowed to hold a maximum of two of three media outlets in a region.

Communications minister Helen Coonan told Australia's ABC radio she does not expect the new laws to spark a wave of takeovers in the media industry.

"I certainly don't expect to see that. I think that the cross media arrangements that have been agreed to have very significant safeguards," Coonan said. "They got additional, structural barriers to takeovers in the "two out of three" extended to metropolitan and regional areas - so there are stringent safeguards as well as regulation oversight."

India's software giant Infosys reported a 52 percent jump in second quarter profit from a year ago. The company's net profit for the July to September period was more than $203 million, beating analysts' forecasts. The Bangalore company is India's second largest software exporter by revenue.

China's trade surplus in the first nine months of this year already has surpassed the annual record set in 2005. Through September, exports exceeded imports by $110 billion. China's trade surplus for the whole of last year was $102 billion.

China's growing trade surplus is a sore point in the relationship with its trading partners, particularly the United States.

In other news from China: For the first time, a woman tops the list of the country's richest people. Zhang Yin, founder of paper-recycling company Nine Dragons Paper Holdings in southern Guangdong province, amassed a fortune of close to $3.5 billion. Zhang is now the world's richest self-made woman. Thirty-five of the 500 people listed in this year's Hurun Report, an annual list of China's richest individuals, are women.