Prime Minister Julia Gillard says proposed media laws changes won't curtail the freedom of the press or allow governments to control the news.
Labor will introduce laws to parliament on Thursday to create a new public interest media advocate to ensure the self-regulatory body that handles complaints about the print and online media does its job properly.
The advocate would also be charged with ensuring media mergers and acquisitions don't reduce diversity.
As well, a parliamentary committee will look at whether the 75 per cent rule - which limits the audience reach of television networks - should be dropped.
The changes, which the government wants passed within a week, have been attacked by the industry, the federal opposition and crossbench MPs as undermining media freedom.
Ms Gillard says she's "passionately committed" to freedom of speech and diversity in the media.
"Both are essential underpinnings of our democracy," she told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
The government wasn't trying to direct what journalists wrote.
"The only thing the government is saying is when media organisations come together to create a press council ... that self-regulation model should come up to certain standards," she said.
"And when it comes up to certain standards the news organisations participating in that press council get the benefit of the exemption under the Privacy Act."
Ms Gillard says it's appropriate that any further consolidation in Australia's media industry be tested against the public interest by an independent advocate.
She cited figures showing the two major news companies in Australia - Fairfax and News Limited - covered 86 per cent of the market. In the US, where the top two newspaper companies cover 14 per cent of the market.
Asked how the proposed laws would stop further ownership concentration, Ms Gillard said, "They don't."
But the new advocate, who would set the standards for press councils and test diversity, would act "independently and in good faith" and not be controlled by the government.
Ms Gillard compared the appointment process, which would involve consultation with the opposition, to that of High Court judges.
"There is no evidence that despite the fact we appoint High Court judges that we somehow get beneficial decisions from them," she said.