The future of the ABC

The ABC’s had a pretty rocky ride in the Howard era. Aside from funding cuts, and the mad adventure of the Shier revolution, there’s also been the relentless attack on “bias” and push for “balance” – which has had its effect on the ABC’s news and current affairs coverage. This has been driven, as Alan Knight from Friends of the ABC documents in an essay for Crikey today, through what really has been a concerted “march through the institutions” by the culture warriors, who in their usual ex-Maoist style, do exactly what they accuse teh left of doing in deranged column after deranged column, unreadable Quadrant article after unreadable Quadrant article. Through all this, when you take into account all the ABC does, particularly on the radio networks and now on the web, I think it’s still true to say that we’re very well served by our public broadcaster. I’m hoping that if the Albrechtsens and Windschuttles of the world don’t have the decency to resign from the Board (and let’s face it, a Rudd victory might make it much harder for them to claim they represent “the people”), that a reshaping of Board appointment processes in the direction of transparency and bipartisanship and genuine expertise and staff representation, which Rudd is expected to deliver, would provide a good argument for legislating to chuck the whole existing Board out and start afresh.

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Posted in federal election '07, media
61 comments on “The future of the ABC
  1. Mark says:

    Ken over the Road stirred up hornets nest a week or so ago with this:

    http://www.roadtosurfdom.com/2007/11/01/eight-well-spent-cents-today/

    As I said at the time, I’m with Ken. How’s this for a scenario:

    A public float with a strict (say 2%) statutory limit on individual shareholdings.

    Those of us who love the ABC can put our money where our mouth is. Rest can please themselves.

    Funds raised retained within ABC to provide capital base .

    In return, Govt phases out public funding over say five years to support transition to self-sufficiency. In the end the shareholders will choose the board and dictate the mix of how this occurs (Ads, sponsorships, merchandising, production, etc etc).

    And it would be truly free at last…..

  2. I am sick to death of the bias in the ABC. I want to just listen to, or watch news. Simple facsts reported, without all the rot, sneering & subletly of media watch, 4 corners, lateline, etc.

    I detest the fawning over Kevin Rudd, which has been going on since he became a minister. I just want him reported on, not supplicated to.

    I could not care less about Albrechtsen, Windschuttle or anybody with “ch” in their name. The “friends of the ABC” in particular can dunk themselves 3 times & come up twice, thus improving the average ozzi IQ.

    I just want none of the juvenile rot or sensationalism of the commercial channels, & none of the bias of the 2 govt channels.

    If the soft-hands left want a greens compliant mouthpiece, they can ruddy well put their hands in their pockets & start one.

    The ABC should be a broadcaster commanding respect, instead of the partisan wank-fest it is turning into.

  3. Mick says:

    Steve, polls consistently show that the ABC does command respect – far more than any commercial news outlet, and far more than it would if it were privatised. Despite having been under siege since Howard came to power, it’s still one of the greatest democratic institutions in the country. Privatisation wouldn’t free it. It would bond it to the same masters that make its commercial rivals such risible joke. A return (even an increase!) of staff representation on the board is the way to go.

  4. …bias of the 2 govt channels.

    That’s the first I’ve heard SBS accused of bias, but there’s a first for everything.

  5. Mark says:

    Read my post Mick. 2% ownership limit would mogul proof it and make it much more accountable to its audience (who would also by and large be its owners)than it is today.

  6. mbahnisch says:

    On the Ken scenario, what I think that ignores is that as soon as you hive something off to private ownership (no matter whether it’s believed that there is a “market” for what the ABC does that would pay for it), the incentive structure pushes the thing in the direction of a broader reach, more dollars and less quality.

    Public broadcasting is a precious good in and of itself.

  7. mbahnisch says:

    For instance, look at “notforprofit” hospitals in the US which consistently cut labour and capital costs and chase market share. There are distinct advantages to public ownership, unfashionable as it may be to say so.

  8. Katz says:

    I’m looking forward to the ABC returning to its proper role.

    1. Bananas in Pyjamas celebrating their gayness.

    2. Red Kezza ritually humiliating everyone to the right of Fidel Castro.

    3. Finally getting to see on “Compass” decent religious programs like “Piss Christ: Get your hand off it, Pell.”

    (And, of course, Albrechtsen and Windy serving lengthy terms in the John Pilger Political Re-Education and Mung Bean Cultivation Collective.)

    I raise my latte to La Revolutione!

  9. pre-dawn leftist says:

    Sell the ABC? You MUST be joking, surely? Do you want yet ANOTHER channel full of Australian Idol, Big Brother, Dancing with the “Stars” and other similar shite?

    You dont think thats what would happen? You are kidding yourself.

    Bias at the ABC? The only bias at the ABC is FOR the Government (see Insiders on Sunday mornings – they try as hard as they can to polish this Government of turds). If you want to see bias, take a gander at Channel 9 some time – if you can stand it (I last about 5 minutes).

  10. pre-dawn leftist says:

    One other thing – I’m firmly with Mark B on this BTW. I want the ABC to be in a position where it can afford to (and is prepared to) piss off literally everybody in the community. That means complete independence and editorial freedom – the only requirement being to remain within the law, and behave within the relevant codes of eithics.

    That is, ultimately, the only media really worth having because it is the only sort which does not serve a vested interest of some kind (eg shareholders).

  11. gandhi says:

    Ken’s suggestion is just dangerous reactionism. Let’s all take a deep breath and imagine that Labor gains power in 10 days… Then what do you want?

  12. Greg says:

    It’s mostly just BBC programming anyway, just like PBS in the U.S. Oh, and “Rage”, which nobody watches, unless they’re pissed.

  13. nasking says:

    “As I said at the time, I’m with Ken.”

    and Mark, I wasn’t. selling the ABC is crazy. putting advertising thruout will only lead to a furthering of the Corporate message at the expense of anything for the public good. i’m w/ Mark B., pre-dawn leftist & others on this…create an independent board. The rest of my views can be found on that Road to Surfdom link provided above…& here:

    http://www.roadtosurfdom.com/2007/10/25/sell-abc-tv/#comments

    my first comment summed up my passionate feelings on the matter in no uncertain terms:

    “Sell the ABC my arse!…go 24 hrs. & put more money into it…& go for a more independent board. Damned if we want to rely on Sky News for all our 24 hr. news…not when Rupie is so keen on smashing Unions, privatisation, lowering taxes at the expense of public services, celebrity oggling, & turning us into an American style Republic…no thanx!”

    It’s an issue that can divide families…& bloggers from those who comment…:)

    I have nothing further to say on the matter.

  14. FDB says:

    “Public broadcasting is a precious good in and of itself.”

    Precisely Mark. The question of whether the market could provide it more efficiently or independently is nonsensical. They cannot by definition – by the very internal logic of markets.

  15. Mr Denmore says:

    For those advocating a commercial ABC, I present to you as exhibit one – Television New Zealand.

    There is an organisation torn between the inherent virtues of public broadcasting and the pressure to please advertisers. It is a dog’s breakfast of a “service”.

    The ritual argument from the right about public broadcasting is that it is middle class welfare – pandering to the elitist tastes of a comfortable minority who could afford to pay for their own subscription channel.

    Ordinary working people all watch Today Tonight and Australian Idol, they argue. These would be the same working people selling themselves to slavery so their kids can learn the fine arts at a posh private school?

    Get set guys. You’re going to have to work an extra night shift so the little ones can watch Andre Previn on Sunday Arts.

  16. jo says:

    SATP – so when ABC journalists do stories on state labor govts, they are independent journalists doing their job well, and when they do stories on your mate howard & his mates – they are biased.

    lateline has been an extremely useful vehicle in particular, for fed. govt ministers to get their ‘next day media messages’ out.

    and when the next cyclone hits FNQ – i expect you’ll be switching to commercial radio for ongoing updates.

    recycling right-wing talking points as fact…..so 2003, steve.

  17. mbahnisch says:

    Oh, and “Rage”, which nobody watches, unless they’re pissed.

    I watch Rage when I’m sober! What has anyone got against a bit of 80s and 90s musical nostalgia once in a while?

  18. Frank Calabrese says:

    [Oh, and “Rage”, which nobody watches, unless they’re pissed.

    I watch Rage when I’m sober! What has anyone got against a bit of 80s and 90s musucal nostalgia once in a while?]

    Especially in January when they show old episodes of Countdown 🙂

    But I do wish they started showing the old Hit Scene & GTK episodes – they already did once, but I missed most of those.

    For an example of Hitscene, may I present The New Dream performing Groupie.

    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=12EcP_rUFd4

  19. FDB says:

    C’mon Frank, what about Rock Arena!!!

  20. Frank Calabrese says:

    [C’mon Frank, what about Rock Arena!!!]

    Rock Arena is fine, but I do draw the line at Recovery – a bit to recent for my liking – perhaps replace it with Beatbox/The Factory.

  21. anthony says:

    Beatbox!

    Wanking was a topic, these days it’s a modus operandi.

  22. Shaun says:

    The ABC bias has finally gone to far. I’ve been watching the 7:30 Report for the past half-hour and it is Rudd, Rudd and Rudd with not even a question from Red Kezza.

    How dare the ABC give this man such a platform in the middle of the election!

  23. paul walter says:

    The fact that the country has survived the discursive nuclear winter of a decade of Howardism is partly down to hardy but now worn down souls within the ABC and SBS who fought desperate rear-guard actions in defence of this slapdash society.
    Homogenising and heterogenising forces would have had Australians living in an experiential and intellectual void years ago. The junk now shown on these perversely underfunded, dumbed-down and “harmonised” units, where stimulating television once blossomed, is enough to turn the stomach even of the single-digit IQ morons the TV is aimed at.
    So we will see. Will the ALP realise that its own survival as well as Democracy itself is on the line and move to restore funding and editorial independence.
    Or do we see the total and irrevocable take over of “Spicks and Specks”/”Rockwizz” tv at the expense of shows like “4 Corners” and “Media Watch”, that demostrate real world action and tendencies that we the People need very much to know about and understand the nature of.

  24. philiptravers says:

    You are all too ready to commit yourself to the ABC.But I reckon it is a bloody con,has been for years, and will remain so,because of the fact,as an organization it crawls up everyones backside. Sometimes critically. A simple process of arithmetic and then peoples hopes would prove once and for all it is a exploiter and predator.How many documentary makers, short film makers,actors actresses, play and film writers and other skills in the visual arts alone,are their in Australia!? Then there is the matter of current affairs serious journalism for the spectrum of interests both able to a agree and unable too. Then there is the payment through contracts, and the legalities that support all those who have cultivated their way in to extracting monies regularly from this government source. Being only a radio listener,and Internet user with a problem with the ABC personally, I feel attacks on the ABC come from the wrong sources usually,and not from those who find these people at that organization objectionable for other reasons, that are quite distinct, real, unrehearsed and not necessarily persuaded that it has any redeemable qualities whatsoever. You could be someone that has already created a visual piece for the Culturally Inclined and find that it will be dismissed by the ABC because of time or some other limitations. But the bloody bastards are endlessly wanting more Australian content ,and ridicule on their own behalf the failings of Australia media generally to recognise Australian content. They,the ABC, do this in the most sneaky and conniving way..the guest speakers talkback and professional representative speak. I get up every morning and find myself blowing the cobwebs of the mind,away, by finding weaknesses, in the content and presentation of long standing radio programmes. AM is a joke to me, the question too broad brush to either amplify or update what can be easily figured out. Am I a supporter of the ABC future..Well lets take the criticism of Windschuttle and compare him with radio and TV presenters who have been there for a long time.Dont you think if you saw your own life fading in prominence,when you were committed to certain outcomes, with a comparison of looking what is on the teev,that you might comply to ,say Howard type views.The lean years as a Author for Windschuttle made him change course,but his early writings as penguin books,of the paper industry and unemployed,put him exactly in the bracket of those who wanted change for good reasons.I have seen the ABC bring back its American contingent,one still on the Teev, and a costly exercise it was, so they brought them back.What was happening to Windschuttle in that period. A good author of books doesnt make heaps of money restricted to the radical left,or critical left as he was in the Australian context..I think he actually called himself an anarchist.Then he has been muscled out by the Right as they found no appreciation,in other stuff eg.Mann,and the later day Saint Michael Duffy.They have been,at the ABC, below the Board level setting an agenda for who are already in employment for along time.Clark as comedian maybe fine,I suppose,but,another look at him,would surely suggest, that he has survived for a long time,and is the product,really that keepable!? Then there are others at the kindergarten retirement village whose flower arrangements spring from the days of A.S.I.O. interest in him and still writes for Uncle Rupee, whilst owning a few assets around the place and loves being Left wing. Its full of young and old stagers for the money,and well, to them that is some sort of virtue and compliment,I think they are contemptious in their attitudes. Windschuttle could of been one of the creatives in front of the camera,and he wouldnt of strayed into unwanted obligations that seem both prejudicial and a smack in the face of the struggling.Instead ,I bet he just couldnt afford to go visual in the lean times.To me he is the only “young angry man”,on the Board being kicked for the wrong reasons.

  25. mbahnisch says:

    I’ll have to step in and defend RockWiz, Paul, before the other Julia Z devotees arrive to get in on the act, it’s actually a clever programme – unlike Spicks and Specks which has never done anything for me. We shouldn’t despise tv as entertainment – but there’s entertainment and entertainment. It needn’t come at the expense of good educative and journalistic tv, but on the ABC in practice it has – the plethora of cheap to produce panel shows actually reflects a desire in terms of ABC funding priorities to protect the funding of news and current affairs. But good Australian drama, culture, religion and entertainment shows should also be within reach. Mind you, as Kim says, very often the ABC does extraordinarily well with very limited resources.

  26. jo: Lay off the turps & try reading for comprehension. Please.

    Please explain the basis for your statement that Howard is my “mate”.?

    What is the basis for your snarky comment about cyclone information?

    I suggest you ain’t the most observant commenter in here.

    Howard needs unhinged people like you commenting publicly, it drives the voters into his arms.

    If you are suggesting that the ABC news & current affairs does NOT have a slant, then you haven’t been watching. Powers of observation are required. It will be especially difficult to notice if one is seeing one’s own opinions being reinforced.

    Me, I just want news, not a reinforcement of my opinions (or anyone else’s).

    Pretending the ABC hasn’t any bias? Jo, that is soooo last century!

  27. skribeforti says:

    As a former writer for the ABC I want a return to the culture where ‘creatives’ were encouraged to produce quality rather than just weird. Where risk avoidance wasn’t the first item on the agenda at every meeting. Where new formats, new people and new ideas were tried, tweaked and eventually polished.

    The ABC has stagnated. There’s the occasional gem that manages to sneak out, but for the most part it’s the same old people doing the same old routines (can we say Sideshow – let’s call it by its proper name: BigGig 2?). And it will continue that way until the culture returns to one where breaking the established rules isn’t only encouraged it’s more or less mandatory.

  28. Sir Henry says:

    Aaah, a vintage show. With Francis Greenslade putting in a wonderful guest appearance.

  29. Shaun says:

    I love Rockwiz (apart from how the amazing James Black plays the BiB riff) and Spicks and Specks. Comparing the shows is a false dichotomy which I delved into elsewhere some time ago.

    As for Newstopia, it is really starting to find its feet. The Pilger Heston “report” was brilliant including Micallef’s response.

  30. adrian says:

    Ah yes, Newstopia just gets better every week. I’d give anything to see Shaun Micallef interview Howard.

    And the newspaper headlines: The Australian “Vote for Turnbull”, with the voicover, ‘Carolyn gets her way’.
    Not to mention the chief political correspondent, Ceasar Romero. It’s brilliant stuff overall.

  31. Shaun says:

    Forgot the Ceasar Romero bit. That was great. I do see a bit of a Daily Show influence but with Micallef’s absurdist tendencies it is homage not a rip-off.

  32. gandhi says:

    Speaking of News Ltd, check out this NYT story:

    Judith Regan, the book publisher who was fired by the News Corporation last year, asserts in a lawsuit filed today that a senior executive at the media conglomerate encouraged her to mislead federal investigators about her relationship with Bernard B. Kerik during his bid to become homeland security secretary in late 2004.

    The lawsuit asserts that the News Corporation executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik’s mentor…

    The News Corporation controls a variety of media outlets worldwide, including Twentieth Century Fox, The New York Post and the Fox News Channel, where Ms. Regan was once host of a talk show.

    The Fox News Channel’s coverage of the presidential race has been a topic of some discussion within rival campaigns because the channel is directed by Mr. Giuliani’s friend of 20 years, Roger Ailes. But the network has strongly defended the balance of its coverage under Mr. Ailes, who served as media consultant to Mr. Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign in 1989. Mr. Giuliani, as mayor, later officiated at Mr. Ailes’s wedding.

    News Ltd is now pushing Giuliani for President in 08.

    And meanwhile, Rupert is begging Rudd to keep troops in Iraq:

    “On the ground in Iraq and in Afghanistan, we are at the point of saying, ‘You have almost won it, you see this out,'” he said.

  33. GregM says:

    “The fact that the country has survived the discursive nuclear winter of a decade of Howardism is partly down to hardy but now worn down souls within the ABC and SBS who fought desperate rear-guard actions in defence of this slapdash society.”

    “discursive \dis-KUR-siv\, adjective:
    1. Passing from one topic to another; ranging over a wide field; digressive; rambling.
    2. Utilizing, marked by, or based on analytical reasoning — contrasted with intuitive.”

    Which meaning of the word “discursive” are you using? I only ask because the two definitions are contradictory.

    Oh, and by the way, do you know the difference or do you just think that your posts become more important when you use big words which you don’t understand?

    (I pause here to allow our good host Mark to interpolate that “discursive” has a specific meaning in the social sciences, which, of course, has no association with reality, but the knowledge of which will fill you with self-importance, get you a PhD and render you unemployable).

    And “slapdash society”? Do you know what this means in the context in which you have used it? (Hint: here the question addresses your understanding of the rules for the construction of grammar rather than your lexicon).

  34. paul walter says:

    Yep, much accomplished on increasingly limited rsources. I said that myself.
    Therefore, all the LESS reason for spending of a limited budget on tacky “entertainment” ( already catered for on commercial telly ) and more emphasis concerning those limited gems of substance the other networks won’t do, that interest SBS/ABC viewers?
    Why are SBS and ABC plied like juvenile girls with the cheap lecher’s plonk of “entertainment” for prime time?
    Because of the hope of gaining an audience amenable to commercial- oriented formats and advertising, to further erode content-based public information broadcasting, as to oublic opinion informing impact? Whoever gets in must return spending to reasonable levels, regardless of whether this upsets those interested in FTA “harmonising” orthe protection of vested interests.
    In the meantime, if the “new” ABC wants to run tripe, what about on Tuesday nights in place of “The Bill”. And while am on subject, what about SBS returning Saturday nights to the public via something of substance in place of that vile Japanese lifestyle/cooking show they’ve taken to running.
    In the meantime it is sad to think the nation’s sole may rest on the Damoclean thread, the outside chance of someone in the know, eg Maxine McKew, getting up over the entrenched arch-philistine responsible for so much damage.

  35. GregM says:

    Then there is this:

    “Homogenising and heterogenising forces would have had Australians living in an experiential and intellectual void years ago”

    That is beyond both analysis and parody.

    I know that others on this blog have argued a line that would remove the franchise from the stupid, and Mark has supported them while I have resisted, but now I begin to see the merits of their arguments.

  36. mbahnisc says:

    While I can see the budding sub-editor come out in you, GregM, and pedantry has its place, I contest the notion that people with PhDs in the social sciences are unemployable.

    I’d also like to point out that critiquing other commenters’ expression really doesn’t add much to the discussion of the actual topic of the thread.

  37. Sir Henry says:

    That’s mbahnisch, Mark.

  38. Skribeforti @10.17pm #27, is the most apt anecdote of what is wrong with the ABC.

  39. mbahnisch says:

    Eek, what happened to my h?

  40. Andyc says:

    Mark B “Eek, what happened to my h?

    Sorry, Mark – I’ve been scribbling on thesis chapters for hours, and it’s very late…

    It got Bahnisched, of course!

    But it seems to have been allowed back, now.

  41. jo says:

    SATP – “pretending the ABC doesn’t have a bias” – seeings as you like the facts, not…. what about the fact that after hundreds of forensic investigations launched by Alston, they couldn’t uncover any systematic bias at the ABC?

    But don’t let facts get in the way of another one of your unsupportable rants – we’re still waiting to hear back as to whether the AWA you are using, is a pre-prepared template which stripped away wages and conditions as evidenced in the report: Lowering the standards: From Awards to Work Choices in Retail and Hospitality Collective Agreements.

    I’d be quite happy to acknowledge what a top bloke you are steve, when you show us the money.

  42. Nabakov says:

    I too am so fed up with a small self-appointed chattering class Sydney dinner party elite, and their online cheerleaders, lecturing the rest of us on where our taxes should go or not go. They seem to have no idea that the overwhelming majority of Australians seen quite happy with their ABC.

    At the Movies
    Message Stick
    Bananas in Pyjamas
    Behind the News
    Play School
    The Wiggles
    The Chaser’s War on Everything
    The 7.30 Report
    Australian Story
    Catalyst
    Foreign Correspondent
    Inside Business
    Insiders
    Landline
    Lateline
    Media Watch
    Stateline
    Can We Help?
    Compass
    Collectors
    Gardening Australia
    The New Inventors
    rage
    Spicks and Specks
    Kath & Kim
    Enough Rope with Andrew Denton
    Adventure Island
    Couch Potato
    Lift Off
    Mister Squiggle
    Return to Jupiter
    Round the Twist
    The Saddle Club
    Secret Valley
    The Aunty Jack Show
    Australia You’re Standing In It
    The Big Gig
    Blah Blah Blah
    The D-Generation
    The Gillies Report
    Frontline
    Grass Roots
    The Late Show
    The Micallef Program
    Mother and Son
    Bush Tucker Man
    A Difficult Woman
    Bastard Boys
    Bordertown
    Brides of Christ
    Changi
    The Damnation of Harvey McHugh
    G.P.
    MDA
    Power Without Glory
    Patrol Boat
    Rush
    Robbery Under Arms
    Scales of Justice
    Sea Change
    Secret Men’s Business
    Stormy Petrel
    Sweet and Sour
    Phoenix
    Janus
    Blue Murder
    Police Rescue
    Wildside
    Quantum
    This Day Tonight
    Towards 2000
    Any Questions?
    Lift Off
    Good News Week
    Mastermind
    Race Around The World
    Strictly Dancing
    Theatre Sports
    Roy and HG
    Countdown
    GTK
    Rock Arena
    Six O’Clock Rock
    Bellbird
    Something in the Air
    Live and Sweaty
    The Fat
    Micallef Tonight

    And that’s just a short list that also doesn’t include radio.

    Yes well ok, the ABC has gone off the boil recently. I’m sure whoever is spending our taxes on it now, and appointing its board, is taking a close interest in the collapse of its popular and quality programming over the past decade.

  43. Nabakov says:

    “the overwhelming majority of Australians seen”

    Yes, well, it’s not just the typo that needs correcting here. Should read:

    “the overwhelming majority of Australians have seem”

  44. grace pettigrew says:

    As David Salter says in “The Media we Deserve”, the “problem” with the ABC is that its programmers are mostly intelligent, well educated and come from a tradition of open inquiry, which means not that the programming leans obviously to the left, but that issues and topics are given a broad and generous treatment, that drives the right wing dogmatists nuts.

    If the ABC were to be privatised under the 2% model suggested above, then the shareholder demography would probably end up much the same as the present programmer demography, and perhaps not much would change. Then, the question remains, why abolish the ABC Charter, which at least gives the right some chance to argue for an illusory political “balance”.

    No, the only answer to the “problem” of ABC “bias” is to clinically lobotomise the programmers and the audience. And that has been the main aim of the “culture wars” from the beginning.

  45. Su says:

    Can add Fireflies to that list, Nabs. Only public broadcasters seem capable of delivering quality news/current affairs shows, and while 730 and lateline are not up to the standard of the Lehrer Newshour, they are way ahead of the competition.

  46. paul walter says:

    ” No, the only answer to the “problem” of ABC “bias” is to clinically lobotomise the programmers and the audience” (Pettigrew).
    Judging by some of the recent content, they have already done that as regards the former, as a means to getting at the latter; the audience.

  47. Foucault A Go Go says:

    Any organisation/institution that relies on direct funding from the feds will always be a dogs breakfast of micromanagement and tedious politicking. This is also why the universities are a disaster. A separate trust along the model of the BBC, perhaps with a set levy (like Medicare, but obviously much smaller) is probably the only way to improve things.

    Having said that, in the new multichannel multimedia world of cheap digital broadcasting the case for the ABC will become harder and harder to make.

  48. Foucault A Go Go says:

    Don’t take that post to mean I am anti the ABC as I am far from it. There really is a huge difference in the “products” of commercial versus public broadcasting. What has happened to SBS is just tragic.

  49. Katz says:

    The ABC was founded aping the BBC ethos of “improvement” of the viewing audience.

    This ethos had cultural origins in the great British patrician liberal meliorist tradition, which was both elitist and optimistic.

    This model worked as long as everyone agreed about what “improvement” meant.

    There was always less agreement about this ambition in Australia, and Australia never had a large, confident, liberal, patrician elite.

    So, this lack of consensus about the nature of “improvement” was always going to be one of the central theatres in Australia’s nasty and virulent culture war.

  50. skribeforti says:

    SATP @39

    The problem is a direct result of the constant claims of bias from both sides but especially from the right in the last decade. Even something as banal as The Glasshouse was pulled because it was deemed to be too lefty. I wouldn’t be surprised if its supposed ‘better’ replacement – aka BigGig2 – didn’t have a quota of Rudd jokes it had to fulfil each episode just to remain on air. The writers are certainly stretching to get more than polite chuckles from the audience. BTW I expect that any changes to ABC culture will be brief and short-lived under a Labor government. The ABC is too important as a propaganda tool for any ruling political party to let loose. The Coalition has shown how it can be muzzled. Labor will ‘me too’ just as soon as the criticism starts flowing.

    The ABC needs to be genuinely independent, with only broad parliamentary oversight to ensure that it meets its charter. Any form of privatisation will undermine both its integrity and its effectiveness. What it needs is a guaranteed amount of funding that is independently determined: maybe a percentage of GDP or tax revenue. Then we may see a change in culture. Until then it will remain a puppet for the ruling junta.

  51. Paul Burns says:

    I want to stand up for The Bill. I like it so much I went out and bought the DVD’s.

  52. “But don’t let facts get in the way of another one of your unsupportable rants – we’re still waiting to hear back as to whether the AWA you are using, is a pre-prepared template which stripped away wages and conditions as evidenced in the report: Lowering the standards: From Awards to Work Choices in Retail and Hospitality Collective Agreements.”

    Er… jo, this is an ABC thread, but now that it has slowed, I am happy to explain anything about AWA’s to those whose contact with them has not been as close as mine.

  53. via collins says:

    What’s slowed the thread SATP?

    Perhaps it was the size of Nabakov’s phenomenally long list of loved & respected ABC TV productions and co-pros. Interesting to compare Nab’s list with Greg’s one-liner at # 12:

    “It’s mostly just BBC programming anyway, just like PBS in the U.S. Oh, and “Rage”, which nobody watches, unless they’re pissed.’

    I guess the width between those two points of view rather clearly illustrates the difference between information on a topic, and lazy and/or wilful misinformation on a topic. Anyway, sorry to interrupt, I believe you were about to launch into your Workchoices lecture, carry on. I’m going to go and start combing the Alston files to identify the three examples of possible bias that his squad uncovered at a cost of, whta, around $200,000+ as a starting rate?

  54. paul walter says:

    I hear, Paul Burns, they make excellent Frisbies.
    Will not descend to nastiness relating to what happens to certain categories of people re their parting from their money.

  55. While you are at it via collins, you can dredge up all the investigations into “police corruption” which have likewise unearthed only a hapless constable or two who turned a blind eye to streetwalkers or SP bookies.

    Programming in general, and inherent bias in the news & current affairs, are separate issues.

    There is bad journalism aplenty at the ABC, which when combined with a bias, leads to distortion in reporting, particularly in regard to which stories are emphasised, & how much of a story is told. All in all, quite subtle at times, though occassionally in current affairs programmes it can be rather obvious.

  56. FDB says:

    “There is bad journalism aplenty at the ABC”

    Compared with what?

    “distortion in reporting, particularly in regard to which stories are emphasised, & how much of a story is told.”

    Compared with what?

  57. via collins says:

    SATP, it’s once again unsupported claim versus unsupported claim.

    I’ll see your “There is bad journalism aplenty at the ABC” with ‘There is good journalism aplenty at the ABC”, and raise you “a large majority of Australians find the ABC the most reliable news authority”. Oh hang on, that is substantiated, and has been on numerous occasions.

    Your minority viewpoint is welcomed of course, and that fact that you are swimming against the tide doesn’t unvalidate your view at all.

    Also, police force have a clear & defined role in our society, and generally in a democracy, are held to the most scrupulous accountability. TV, I know it’s hard to imagine, is not responsible for the safety & laws of our society – conflating time-wasting federal parliamentary investigations into a broadcaster with what are turning out to be core corruption investigations into the police culture of a state might be seen as getting priorities out of whack.

    Finally, I await your reply to FDB’s rather simple questions – we’re getting to the key of your complaints now.

  58. wilful says:

    Steve, by your standards mate, Fox news is the only truly decent news program around. How much money has been spent sniffing for bias at the ABC? What was found?

    The only decent example of bias on the ABC is Insiders.

    Give it a break – just because you’re far right wing, doesn’t mean most of Australia is. Conservative rural Australians love the ABC, yet still manage to vote National party all the time.

  59. Paul Burns says:

    Never tried them as Frisbees. Also a devotee of Friday Night Crime. Lets face it, I’m just fascinated by the lumpenproletariat.

  60. Wilful, “Fox news” (is there a corresponding “Wolf news” or something?) is mentioned often on this site. However as much as I twist the dial on my TV, I am unable to find it. Nor is there a newspaper so named. I can spell Fox, but have gotten no closer than reading about it on this site.

    Insiders I likewise know only how to spell. Presumably a TV programme? But has never chanced itself upon my screen. It may be the only “decent” example of bias, but it is the odious and subtle bias which is annoying. I just want to receive news, without hints that “Bush = bad, Rudd = good”, and I want to receive news which when terrorists are arrested, gives the full story, (ie, if a dozen people are arrested, and they all belong to the same dogmatic religious group, it is good journalism to mention this)

    Your comment on me being “far right wing” drops you right into the “troll” bin. Expect no more feeding from me.

    FDB, I will spell it out for you: Bad journalism is as opposed to good journalism. Distoring and telling part of a story is as opposed to telling all of a story.

    Example: cancelling an interview with the father of a murdered schoolgirl because there is no spokesman available from the group which murdered her to provide a contra-viewpoint.

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