Mea Maxima Culpa

Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. Apparently the ABC has finally been cowed and beaten by the Right Wing Death Beasts. And I have to confess I’ve been a (small) part of the problem by occasionally joining the chorus of criticism of Auntie’s evident left-wing bias. Of course, if they’d made a greater effort to balance the ubiquitous LWDBs with a few righties, Auntie might never have attracted the opprobrium of the right wing bovver boys in the first place. But still …

Commissioning market research to measure the extent of bias in current affairs coverage was the first signal that the ABC had run up the white flag on political independence. But David Marr’s Media Watch tonight provided the definitive indication that Auntie has surrendered. As Marr commented, refusing to provide controversial film clips to “advocacy or cause”-based docos (whatever that means) is blatant political censorship:

The last person who should determine the “editorial integrity” of embarrassing interview grabs and public statements is the embarrassed politician.

The ABC’s gutless policy is an invitation to political censorship by the politicians themselves.

It’s a disgrace.

Dead right. This is scarey stuff. I’m sorry David. You’re a prissy, condescending wanker (not to mention hopelessly biased), but indispensible* just the same.

* I can’t help wondering whether Marr would have covered the story if the doco-maker had been a RWDB sponsored by Riotinto or the Salvation Army instead of a leftie backed by Oxfam and Amnesty International. But it’s a noble cause just the same.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
This entry was posted in Print media. Bookmark the permalink.
85 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Tiley
2022 years ago

That is very bad. What does this say about their commissioning policy?

Yobbo
Yobbo
2022 years ago

I can’t help wondering whether Marr would have covered the story if the doco-maker had been a RWDB sponsored by Riotinto or the Salvation Army instead of a leftie backed by Oxfam and Amnesty International. But it’s a noble cause just the same.

Of course not Ken, and that’s the point. But you’re right, this sort of censorship isn’t the sort of result that we RWDBs are looking for.

I guess im atypical in that I want to see the whole organisation privatised, but more traditional RWDBs like Bolt, Blair, and presumably the Liberal party, would simply prefer that it was more balanced in its editorial coverage.

I personally think the ABC has served its purpose and is no longer required. We don’t need blacksmiths any more either.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Actually, this RWDB would like to see an alternative $600m national network set up…except this one will have a soft right focus. We’ll have a version of Media Watch, except that it will be hosted by Tim Blair.

Oh yes, yes, yes! Let’s gets some competition happening in the sheltered workshop of government funded broadcasting.

Now that’s 8cents a day spent the way I’d like to see it.

MuzM
MuzM
2022 years ago

Well, I have noticed over the last few months,the ABC slowly head to the right.I listen and watch both private and ABC media (about 50-50).The commercial media are so right wing biased that anything on the ABC always seems leaning to the left to you tunnel vision right wingers.At least the ABC has both sides (unbiased, in that it does not mock either side) of the story.Listening to the private media, when they do give both sides of the story, they have a tendancy to mock and denigrate the “other” side and call them looney, commies, greenies and such. Remember when Keating was defeated by Howard, Pru Goward, immediately resigned from the ABC news and went to the Prime Ministers Office.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Well, I have noticed over the last few months,the ABC has been dragged reluctantly, grizzling and moaning in the remote direction of the centre.I listen and watch both private and ABC media (about 50-50).The ABC are so chardonnay left that mainstream commercial TV almost seems right-wing by comparison…at least to you blinkered left wingers. When the ABC makes its few token attempts at giving both sides of an argument, the editorialising, selective questioning and disproportionate airtime afforded to the left is far more sinister than mockery (a technique, incidentally, that Marr employs with undisguised glee).Listening to the ABC, when they do give both sides of the story, they have a tendancy to use weasel words, be deceitfully emotive and call on fake authority to denigrate the “other” side. I have no idea why professional victim industry lobbyist Pru Goward has anything to do with this discussion at all.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Just to get Al and Yobbo’s position in perspective. When we talk about “the ABC”, the immediate debate is about “ABC News and Current Affairs”, which is independent of the Board in a way that the rest of the ABC isn’t, as a consequence of Act of Parliament which has annoyed the Board ever since the late ’40s.

We are not talking about local radio, or documentaries, or ABC online, or the orchestras, or light entertainment or drama.

There is a large debate to be held about this national broadcaster in general, and its poverty doppelganger SBS, because it is a genuinely troubled organisation per se. One symptom of this is the Enterprises decision we are discussing here, which is politically motivated, censorious, gutless and violates the very idea of independence.

News and Current Affairs actually gets a good argument in this incident – it surely needs protection from this kind of decision.

It is a pity that the discussion of national broadcasters is couched in such ideological terms because it replaces a more constructive debate. As has happened in so many institutions, the question of doing it better is replaced by organisations fighting for survival, being abolished or flogged off. What would Telstra look like if it hadn’t spent the last fifteen years of its existence at least dealing with competition, deregulation, sales and share value?

Even the most hard line of abolitionists with the ABC would have to concede that the great majority of Australians are not watching left wing programs. In that context, any left wing bias by the ABC news room is not that important.

What is more, we know that people like the shock jocks do make a difference to politics – just look at Law and Order for the most obvious example. There ain’t much evidence that Philip Adams and David Marr are swinging our great nation to neo-Leninism.

I keep seeing discussion becoming argument and argument becoming dogma. There’s a real world out there, where something has to be done.

The real enemy is tedious oversimplification – which brings us back to Marr. The ABC graciously allows fifteen minutes per week to discussion the media. How come, for instance, we don’t have a much more extensive panel show, with a range of guests, running for an hour? Then at least the debate gets more complex..

Why not? Because marketing says no, because everyone else has dibs on resources and will defend territory, because it would probably annoy the government even more. It’s that decisionmaking process we need to address…

Yobbo
Yobbo
2022 years ago

We are not talking about local radio, or documentaries, or ABC online, or the orchestras, or light entertainment or drama.

Well I am. I don’t think we need publically owned broadcasters or production studios any more than we need publically owned hookers or pubs. The private sector is quite capable of providing all the things that the ABC provides.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Even the most hard line of abolitionists with the ABC would have to concede that the great majority of Australians are not watching left wing programs. In that context, any left wing bias by the ABC news room is not that important.

Yes it is. Just because more people are tuned in to vacuous reality programs than the ABC News does not excuse the sort of partisanship that has crept in. A number of ABC journalists have made it very clear just whose side they’re on in Latham v. Howard, or Bush v. Kerry. They’re a little bit confused with Blair v. (Tim)Howard, but they’re working on that.

It sounds bizarre to go about decrying the polarisation of the public broadcasting debate along ideological lines because, as Ken pointed out, we probably wouldn’t even be talking about it if the ABC had tried a little harder to offer a balanced mix of opinions in the first place.

It is precisely because it is publicly funded that there is a belief that the ABC will provide Australians with news and culture untainted by commercial influence. However, this does not mean a green light to push asylum seeker agendas, anti-war messages or any other trendy tosh currently held dear in the leafy ‘burbs of Melbourne and Sydney.

This RWDB wants to see the ABC as a broadcaster of reference, not some polemical balance to the perception that commercial broadcasting is a cesspit of reactionary conservatism.

Stan
Stan
2022 years ago

I don’t have a problem with much of what David said except that what he should have said was:

the great majority of Australians are [quite voluntarily] not watching left wing programs

You see, the fact that the great majority of the population choose not to watch left wing programs means that is actually representative of what the Australian viewing public would like to see. I’m not arguing that that these commercial stations are necessarily rightwing, rather they are centralist where the ABC is not.

The Australian population deserve a publicly funded broadcaster that is representative of their views. If they cannot achieve that, then I fear we must sell it because otherwise were not getting our value for money.

Peter Ransen
Peter Ransen
2022 years ago

I’m in to fight for the ABC. I think it achieves extremely well under its difficult circumstances.

It’s a truism that so many of the top rating shows and talents start there by and large. Then, having taken that risk in development and broadcast, whoomph, in come the commercial sharks and away goes that audience.

It’s news and current affairs, I believe, is excellent.

Good on you, ABC. Minnow in the big money pool and looking bloody great.

However, I am still unnerved that Jim Middleton and that North America correspondent (ah, yes, Lisa Miller) haven’t yet got windscreens for their cars. After a while that’s gotta hurt.

Rex
Rex
2022 years ago

Ah, the Fundamentalists are at it again. Wanting to flog off all of the public institutions because of some misguided notion that it will be more cost effective or more representative.

Why not start with some other cultural institutions first , and we can keep the ABC (at least for a little while) to report on it for us, and see how the big sell off is going down in voter land.

Why not, for example, The War Memorial in Canberra. Where in 2002/3 we the taxpayer coughed up $99 Million to subsidise 750,000 visitors. That’s an outrageous $132 per visitor.

$132 for some stone behemoth gloryfying the history of the Anglo Saxon segment of the population’s involvement in chiefly British Empire wars. My Chinese neighbour doesn’t see the point and doesn’t want to fund it any more with his meagre income from the steam laundry.

Or maybe, even better, That depraved den of iniquity and drug dealing, the Australian Institute Sport, where 600 athletes were showered in a whopping $104 Million in 2002, a subsidy of $174,000 per athlete. Lil’ Angelo up the road, just one of hundreds of thousands of obese schoolchildren out there, would love some of that money to cover his stomach stapling procedure, not so that that he can run 100m under 10 seconds, just so that he doesn’t waddle when he walks.

The ABC on the other hand cost $582 Million in 2002. 48% of the population use it every day or more. That means a subsidy of roughly $60 per person, half the subsidy per user of the War Memorial, and only .03% of the subsidy we provide to the walking chemical experiments.

So all you fundis, you’re looking in the wrong place for your inequities and your cost savings. In the cultural arena alone, there’s at least two institutions less cost effective, and less representative than the ABC to get stuck into.
Of course if you want to branch into say Defence, then things get really interesting then.

Incidently, why not give your local Liberal rep a heads up on this important info – Might go down well as a last minute platform change in the election.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Rex

I suppose it would be pointless to ask why little Angelo couldn’t maybe stop stuffing food down his gullet and do a bit of exercise instead of hoping the taxpayer will subsidise his stomach-stapling. The taxpayer already does if his parents are in a “private” health fund, and even if not he’d get treated free if his obesity was life-theatening.

I know it’s a radically right wing viewpoint to think people should actually take responsibility for their own behaviour and do something to change it, but there it is.

I don’t have a problem with the War Museum any more than I do with the ABC. They’re both important national institutions, and the fact that some righties want to close down the ABC while some lefties want to close the War Museum says more about them than it does about the desirability of government support for both institutions. They’re both part of our national culture and identity.

So is sporting excellence, and I suspect almost no-one would support closing down the AIS. Maybe they could import and sell steroids to gym bunnies to defray expenses, a bit like the ABC Shop does with books and video spin-offs.

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

Ken would you please if you have time/inclination explain your point that David Marr for all his faults is performing an indispensible service.

I can’t for the life of me see it. A show like that one, done without fairness or integrity is actually worse than no show at all.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

James

I’m not defending the entire program or it’s outrageously biased slant. Heaven forbid. Just that particular item, and the general concept of a Media Watch program, which the commercial channels would never do, and which despite its faults fairly frequently exposes conduct that deserves criticism. It would have far more credibility, however, if it applied the same standard to ideological friends as enemies. I don’t think it’s worse than having no show at all, but the selective bias does drasticallt undermine Media Watch’s credibility and therefore usefulness. But, with all its faults, we wouldn’t have got to find out about this particular incident, or lots of others, if it didn’t exist. Even badly flawed accountability mechanisms are worth having.

James L
James L
2022 years ago

“$132 for some stone behemoth gloryfying the history of the Anglo Saxon segment of the population’s involvement in chiefly British Empire wars. My Chinese neighbour doesn’t see the point and doesn’t want to fund it any more with his meagre income from the steam laundry. ”

That’s odd, my Beijing-born girlfriend though the War Memorial was fascinating (and I think it’s the best museum in the country). Our visit there certainly helped me get over the cringing embarrasment I felt earlier in the day when I took her to the new Museum of Australia (surely the worst museum in the country).

And BTW, there’s nothing in the War Memorial that glorifies war. Quite the opposite. If you visited and didn’t feel deeply moved, then there’s something very strange about you.

MuzM
MuzM
2022 years ago

It seems very hard for you RWDB’s to accept the truer version of the News and Current Affairs.So, you have to call it BIAS.I watched a great show last night on SBS. All about the Bush family.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2022 years ago

It’s a truism that so many of the top rating shows and talents start there by and large. Then, having taken that risk in development and broadcast, whoomph, in come the commercial sharks and away goes that audience.

Is it? Saying it’s true doesn’t make it true. Can you provide examples of the “so many top rating shows and talents that started on the ABC”?

The top 20 rating TV shows from last week were:

1 NATIONAL NINE NEWS SUNDAY, Channel 9 1,945,584 viewers
2 CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, Channel 9 1,794,871 viewers
3 NATIONAL NINE NEWS SATURDAY, Channel 9 1,772,019 viewers
4 BIG BROTHER DOUBLE LIVE EVICTION, Channel TEN 1,722,635 viewers
5 AUSTRALIAN IDOL – AUDITION 2, Channel TEN 1,716,615 viewers
6 THE BLOCK, Channel 9 1,704,099 viewers
7 AUSTRALIAN IDOL – AUDITION 1, Channel TEN 1,688,191 viewers
8 SEVEN WONDERS OF THE INDUSTRIAL WORLD-EV, Channel ABC 1,664,448 viewers
9 WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE, Channel 9 1,616,257 viewers
10 BLUE HEELERS, Channel 7 1,613,724 viewers
11 CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION -RPT, Channel 9 1,581,509 viewers
12 POMPEII: THE LAST DAY, Channel 9 1,578,936 viewers
13 WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE – THE BLOCK SPECIAL, Channel 9 1,511,475 viewers
14 LAW AND ORDER: SVU DOUBLE EPISODE RPT, Channel TEN 1,496,218 viewers
15 NATIONAL NINE NEWS, Channel 9 1,487,487 viewers
16 MCLEOD’S DAUGHTERS, Channel 9 1,444,536 viewers
17 60 MINUTES, Channel 9 1,433,870 viewers
18 NINE’S FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, Channel 9 1,430,821 viewers
19 THE GREAT OUTDOORS, Channel 7 1,424,371 viewers
20 BIG BROTHER LIVE NOMINATION, Channel TEN 1,417,521 viewers

1 show from the ABC in the top 20, and from the rest, I can’t identify any ABC talent except possibly National Nine News. I don’t know who reads that and whether or not they came from the ABC. So please excuse me for thinking that you’re talking out of your bum.

So is sporting excellence, and I suspect almost no-one would support closing down the AIS. Maybe they could import and sell steroids to gym bunnies to defray expenses, a bit like the ABC Shop does with books and video spin-offs.

I know of at least 4 Australian bloggers who support closing down the AIS, myself being one of them. Maybe they could sell drugs, but more likely they could easily survive on corporate sponsorship and donations.

You’d do better to actually argue your point on why the ABC is necessary rather than make inaccurate assumptions of others’ views, Ken.

yobbo
2022 years ago

By the way Here’s the link to the ratings page.

I should also point out that another blogger who favours closing down the AIS is the owner of Ken’s domain.

Peter Ransen
Peter Ransen
2022 years ago

Yobbo, the commercial channels are relatively full of journos and sporting talents who cut their teeth at the ABC.

As for programs themselves, you are more likely to get a new concept up at the ABC than on the commercial networks, it takes the risk. I just don’t have time to run through the archives of all networks to give you the satisfaction you wish, I’m sorry. I’m talking Australian content, mate. And I’m talking good creative content, not just fodder. The advent of reality tv has certainly changed the commercial networks latest rush to profit, no doubt about that. However, the breeding ground that is the ABC stands alone in terms of what it has to work with and its competition.

If there were some way the ABC could capitalise on royalties for what it develops and tests, proves, and then has pinched by the commercial networks that’d help.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Yobbo

I reckon the best argument for the continued existence of the ABC and SBS as publicly-funded institutions is the list of top twenty programs you just posted. They’re almost all complete crap. That may sound elitist because it is. But I know crap when I see it, and most of those shows are crap.

Similarly, opera, ballet, symphony orchestras (and museums) would be unlikely to survive without public subsidy. They’re not geared to mass taste lowest common denominator but to excellence, but that excellence feeds into, informs and enriches the mass culture.

There may not be any ex-ABC programs currently in the top 20, but historically there have been lots of shows that started on the ABC or SBS and were later bought by a commercial channel. The Panel is an example, as is 110% Tony Squires. I’m sure readers can list lots of other examples. When you go to the level of individuals, the list is huge. A very high proportion of commercial TV news and current affairs journos and presenters “cut their teeth” at the ABC, as did a lot of the producers, cameramen etc. The ABC is a training ground for talent.

Moreover, ABC and SBS provide a depth and variety of programming you just don’t see on commercial stations. Apparently you’re perfectly happy to survive on a diet of “reality” shows, quizzes and American cop shows, but lots of people want a lot more than that. Diversity and choice are important liberal values, even if they’re ignored by doctrinaire, extreme neoliberalism with its religious obsession with “markets” as the solution to every imaginable problem.

Pretty well all advanced western nations provide a public television service to foster the sort of diversity and excellence that commercial stations simply don’t. Even in the US, the PBS network of public community stations performs this function (although not as well as the ABC). Here’s a summary of its sources of revenue from the PBS website:

Public TV’s total national, regional and local revenue in FY00 totaled $1.6 billion, according to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Leading sources of revenue: members (23.5%); state governments (18.3%); CPB and federal grants/contracts (16.4%); businesses (16.1%); state colleges and universities (6.5%); and foundations (5.5%).

Note that the total of government sources in this list is 41.2% of total revenue, which equates to around 650 million dollars. That’s very similar to Commonwealth funds to Australia’s ABC. Of course, the US taxpayer base supporting that level of public subsidy is much larger, but Australia’s geographical size is as great, and it’s going to cost as much to deliver a localised service to the whole continent (which both ABC and PBS do) irrespective of population. Moreover, ABC does lots of things (AM and FM radio, orchestras) that PBS doesn’t.

The neoliberals’ main argument seems to be that people wanting to view “quality” programming can do so on cable TV. That would certainly suit Rupert Murdoch, but why should Australians suffer a diminution in the diversity of free-to-air programming available to them, merely to enhance Rupert’s bottom line and satisfy extreme neoliberal religious devotees? Moreover, perusal of cable programming, both here and in the US, simply doesn’t support the proposition that it offers the sort of diversity and quality provided by ABC and SBS. Bruce Springsteen’s “Fifty Seven Channels and Nothing On” isn’t just an empty song lyric.

The PBS website boasts that some 70.9% of American TV-owning families watch a PBS station every month, for an average of 7.5 hours. No doubt there are figures available for the ABC, and I’d bet they’d be significantly higher. ABC and SBS don’t usually figure in the ratings, but the vast majority of Australians regularly enrich their lives by watching the programs they screen. Our lives would be much poorer if they weren’t there.

I’d be interested to hear how many readers of Troppo are frequent ABC viewers. I’d be prepared to bet that almost everyone watches ABC regularly, and that for quite a few of us it and SBS would be our principal viewing choices.

Peter Ransen
Peter Ransen
2022 years ago

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with a PBS programmer a couple of times, and there was a tremendous pride she had for the PBS and how it is funded. I wonder if a move in that direction by the ABC would help, also. The last thing to do is to ruin its commercial free style.

To answer your question, Ken, ABC and SBS are the mainstays, and first to go to. The others are definitely on a pick and choose basis, with heaps of reticence in approach. I just don’t like eating cardboard.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

My TV viewing is almost totally confined to the ABC with the odd foray to SBS.

Rex
Rex
2022 years ago

I watch ABC and SBS almost exclusivly. Never watch Nine or Seven, but admit to occaisonally watching reality crap on Ten.

-0-

Notes on earlier Yob comments:

1. A list of ABCers poached by Nine can be found here here . Ken is right. The ABC nurtures the talent, the commercials steal it.

2. I too like the War Memorial, and like to see our athletes do well. The point of my post was to highlight that the fundamentalists who oppose the ABC with the argument “its taxpayers money” , better also be prepared to argue for shutting down the AIS and the War memorial. If not then they are not true followers of economic rationalist positions and they really oppose the ABC because they don’t like diversity of opinion.

3. Yobbo, You want to privatise the AIS. It seems you are a true Fundamentalist. In a mirror universe the world has declared war on blokes like you.

yobbo
2022 years ago

I reckon the best argument for the continued existence of the ABC and SBS as publicly-funded institutions is the list of top twenty programs you just posted. They’re almost all complete crap. That may sound elitist because it is. But I know crap when I see it, and most of those shows are crap.

You seem to have a pretty wide definition of “crap”. Law + Order is the best show on television, in my opinion. Blue Heelers has won untold amounts of Logies. CSI is likewise a great show. I don’t get into McLeod’s Daughters, but chicks all over Australia start salivating when the theme song comes on. I also hate reality shows, the only one I have ever enjoyed is “The Apprentice” (the one with Donald Trump), but the fact is that Big Brother and Australian idol attract huge audiences.

60 Minutes crap? The news is crap?

So they’re crap in your opinion. The ABC is worthwhile in your opinion. The majority of Australians under 40 don’t watch the ABC ever.

Moreover, ABC and SBS provide a depth and variety of programming you just don’t see on commercial stations.

Once again, and this is about the 15th time I’ve made this point on your blog, this simply isn’t true.

All of the variety and quality program that is available on the ABC and SBS is available on subscription TV. The real problem is that people like you (I.E. Baby boomers) feel that you’re entitled to get to watch your favourite programs for free, because that’s just the way it’s always been.

Apparently you’re perfectly happy to survive on a diet of “reality” shows, quizzes and American cop shows, but lots of people want a lot more than that. Diversity and choice are important liberal values, even if they’re ignored by doctrinaire, extreme neoliberalism with its religious obsession with “markets” as the solution to every imaginable problem.

And that diversity is available, as long as you are willing to pay for it. What you are saying is the equivalent of asking the government to subsidise Mangoes so that people can buy them for the same price as apples in the name of “Diversity.” Do you think that’s a good idea too?

Of course diversity is great. Taxing all Australians in order to fund a broadcasting service that predominantly services the upper-middle class is not great. It’s terrible.

As for programs themselves, you are more likely to get a new concept up at the ABC than on the commercial networks, it takes the risk.

Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish.

You are all referring to me as a “fundamentalist” with a “religious obsession” in privatisation, but you keep trotting out all these lines about public broadcasting that haven’t been true for decades.

Subscription TV is the primary innovator in the world’s most competitive market. The biggest innovator in Australian TV is channel Ten. The ABC’s primary innovation in the last 10 years has been to see how much left-wing bullshit they can cram into a 24 hour broadcasting period.

Finally, a hypothetical for you all:

If it was MTV rather than ABC which was funded by the Australian government, would you like to see it privatised?

Peter Ransen
Peter Ransen
2022 years ago

No interest in Play School, jobbo?

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

The argument that ABC talent gets sucked into the commercial nets cuts both ways: it’s yet another government subsidy for what is already a heavily protected industry.

Isn’t the real question here not whether the ABC performs a valuable function (I can’t see how you can seriously argue that it doesn’t), but whether anyone would perform a similar function if they weren’t government funded. I mean, there’s obviously an audience for this stuff. Would someone try to cater for it if the ABC weren’t there?

And Yobbo – you watch too much TV. Read a book, or go outside and play with your friends.

yobbo
2022 years ago

I’ve posted about this on my own blog.

Mork: The answer is obvious. Pay TV already caters for the ABC’s audience, but people prefer to get it for free on the back of the majority of Australians who don’t watch it.

mark
2022 years ago

It’s certainly unlikely the War Memorial would survive, at least in its current form, without taxpayer funding.

Re TV, I don’t watch commercial FTA TV very often. On FTA it’s mostly ABC with the occasional SBS (Nein if there’s sport on); I watch FOXTel mostly for the sport and TV1 (with occasional forays into Classics, Fox8, and UKTV).

yobbo
2022 years ago

I suppose I should let on what I actually watch:

On free to air I watch: The Sopranos, The Apprentice, The Simpsons and Sport (AFL and Cricket when it’s on).

On Fox: Comedy Channel, History Channel, TV1, Fox8, Discovery Travel, Fox Footy, Fox Sports (cricket only) and ESPN (p-ker only). Also catch the odd movie on showtime and flick through the other channels from time to time to see if there’s anything good on. I spend far more time on the internet than I do watching TV though.

I actually watch SBS more than the ABC. “Fat Pizza” and “Late Night P-ker” are 2 shows I try to catch every week. I don’t watch any ABC shows regularly.

yobbo
2022 years ago

“P-ker” = the game with cards and chips that is censored in comments :)

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

Yobbo – I disagree. Apart from sport, music videos and the American all news channels, pay TV is a wasteland. The only entertainment value is seeing how quickly you can flick through the entire 40-whatever channels.

I don’t watch the ABC much – really only news and Andrew Denton’s show, but at the moment, no-one else does news as well*, and none of the commercials seem inclined to do a show like Denton’s.

* Yes, ABC news generally leans to the left of centre, although it has been much better lately, for whatever reason, and I think that’s good. But I’d much rather have a high quality news service with a tilt that I disagree with than crap made by people who think the same way I do.

yobbo
2022 years ago

All depends what you like, I guess. I don’t like watching News on TV, I’d rather read it online. I don’t watch the music video channels either.

I do enjoy watching all the documentaries and all the repeats of old TV series though, and there’s a lot of stuff on the specialist channels like Comedy that never made it to free-to-air here that are good. (The Chris Isaak Show and The Newsroom are two good shows on Comedy)

The most disappointing thing about Foxtel is we don’t get the Sci-Fi channel yet. Hopefully soon.

TimT
2022 years ago

I’ve come in late, but a few comments:

Re: calling for the inclusion of more right-wing voices on a publically-funded ABC -isn’t this sort of pleading exactly the sort of thing that Hayek predicted in his Road to Serfdom? You know, with special interest groups all squabbling over limited public funds instead of going out and taking setting up organisations/institutions for themselves? Political groups of all persuasions – left, right, green and red – are continually trying to force the ABC to reflect their own biases. I think the resultant squabbling caused by these groups is a great argument for the privatisation of the ABC.
Ken – you say that there is a place for the arts like opera, etc, and that these ‘elitist’ arts must be publically funded because they are not designed to appeal to the great mass of people. Well, I say to you sir, bullshit! Opera, orchestral music, ballet – these arts, in their time and place, were very popular. Go and read historical accounts of Lizst packing halls full of screaming fans at Piano recitals, or of the riots at the first performance of The Rite of Spring. Nowadays, of course, opera and ballet are no longer popular, but in my opinion, continuing to channel funds into these arts because apparently these ‘elitist’ arts will benefit other, more popular artistic genres may be one of the things contributing to their decline. And that’s coming from someone who studied Music at Uni, and loves his Gottedammerung in the morning!

yobbo
2022 years ago

Feeding Christians to lions was a very popular form of entertainment once too…

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Are you a christian, Sam? Just wondering, mind you.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

TimT – if you threw the orchestras to the wolves, you wouldn’t get your Gotterdamerung in the morning. Be strong and admit that your sensibility is important. Just because various attention seekers and thugs around the political traps try and write us off as elitist doesn’t mean Australia has to check out of western civilisation.

Pay television is indeed a vile wasteland.The notion that it provides the choice which would substitute for the ABC and SBS is just grotesque.

When you actually look at the Australian documentary content on pay – aside from the shark shows – they turn out to be usefully recycled shows from the ABC and SBS. Mind you, they don’t like to leave that bit of the credits up – true dinks.

When Channel 10 decided to do innovative drama, after a mere thirty or so years of pumping out the drek, where did they go? They pinched Sue Masters from the ABC. The fact that she left reflects what I meant above – the ABC, for which the government as appointers of the Board must ultimately take responsibility – is a terrible mess. We are not asking about how to make it better, but just fighting the same old boring “shut it down and give it to the marketplace so the fairies will make it better…” kind of argument.

If it wasn’t for the ABC, there would be no laughter on Australian television. Where do you think it all came from?

Oh, in the very long term, often from public radio and University revues, but our reactionary friends think the payment of Union fees to do this is some kind of ghastly assault on basic freedoms.

yobbo
2022 years ago

David: As I’ve said before, the ABC once provided a useful and necessary service. Thanks for your help ABC, you’re no longer required, here’s a watch.

Ken: I was raised Anglican, now a militant atheist.

d
d
2022 years ago

3MBS is an independent classical radio station, not. by force of govt., kept at real tax payers’ expense.

It is worthwhile noting, the orchestra and opera companies effecting a transition away from govt. and so tax revenues: they are making increasingly commercial decisions: as one officer of one of the companies said: we are now actually delivering a programme of productions which serves not just a general audience, but segments of all who are devotees of classical music and ballet.

A very good point is shown up: until `national medical schemes’, medicine was an enterprise, driven market. Until, in Oz, govts, supplanted practice as a profit eanring market, including hospitals, medicine was, very inexpensive: in the 60’s and early 70’s modest wage earners in very large numbers held top cover medical insurance.That is how cheap it was. Govt. imposed consumption of those services is a bottomless pit: neither the federal govt. nor states’ govt. no matter how much they tax and spend will stop the decline, and there a number of major reasons why.

By contrast,companies running profit earning hospitals and hospices are delivering services consumers will pay,and, they are increasing the capitalisation: they are increasing what they deliver. Again, there are major reasons why that is the case, includuing no waiting lists.

Each dollar a govt. takes in tax is actually a tax on the payer of , at the minimum, $3. What it actually is is defficult to establish but I suspect each $1 taken by govt. is a tax on the payer of $4-5 dollars, before compounding since that is money the payer cannot invest in enterprises over time.

Govt. regulation is a tax, and is a tremendous sacking of capital. Take, real case, a light processing firm which supplies cut salads in plastic packets to retail chains. Each year, it has to stump up $500,000 in cash to meet OHS regulations which serve nothing at all but useless jobbers called bureaucrats and inspectors. The consequence is, the company will not increase working capital and output, and, cosequently employ more people because of the lossses entailed in that act of fraud, the annual licensing charge. After union thuggery, it must be marked, OHS compliance lifted the per unit price of Heinz output at the ex dandenong factory, those two things were , to say the least, the major reasons why it was shut down.

ABC’s nominal charge is not$580m per annum, it is $700-800 with an additional $200 or so ms. /yr fro its commercial shops.

But just take the $580m, the real tax slug is only a few bob short of $2billion per annum.

The argument, no good thing can be done in free markets is rubbish. To the contrary, govt. takeover, schools, medicine and so forth is marked by their debasement.

ABC should be sold off, to sinki or swim.

As for bias, the matter is not merely one of `balance’, throw in say 2/3 RWDBS to balance 3, 10, how many employees of ABC and mainly lefties.

No.
1. Accuracy in all factual statements. Not `intepreting them. Commentary: sound argument and not the injection of personally held beliefs, by explicit statments, even mannerisms. There in, the standards of ABC are vulgar, crass, coarse_ the frequency with which presenters resort to slang is itself an indication of that.

That is bad enough, couple it with unmistakebale poltically motivated bias, ther ABC is a disgrace. That is not unique to ABC either but what makes it even more immoral is that it is committed at taxpayers expense. This goes right to the heart of the ABC union’s overthrow of Dame Leonie Kramer in the early 80’s. Her position was: to lift ABC to objective high standards, including other non-news programmes. The lefties won out and it shows.
This is distinct from whether ABC should continue to be kept. No it shouldn’t be kept any longer. The trouble for ABC, to set it up on a commercial basis would be difficult, it would sink, precisely because of the shallow, callow staff, both by the self-indulgence in programme content and their leftoid thuggery to what would be required to run it effciently.

It is a mess , a mess compounding the theft of taxation – taxation is theft of property, enforceable only on the threat by govt., each tier of at that, to use violence against citizens if they refuse, by way of `criminal charges’, `fines’, and also `prison sentences’ . An extortion racket which imposes real economic losses which means many remain poor. An extortion racket driven by the scams of govt. consumption, ABC is one of them, so is Medicare, so is the NIC, and `free universities. So is DSS.Let ABC sink or swim.There is no justification whatsoever that many should be forced to pay for others’ entertainment. Those who wish to view ABC let them, and themn alone pay for it, as also calssical music , which I enjoy too but believe it should not be at the expense of others, others should not be compelled to pay for my interests by the act of govt: extortion and blackmail.

chico o'farrill
chico o'farrill
2022 years ago

Ahh, the Sue Masters move.

Dovetails nicely into Yob’s comments regarding 10, and the ABC both. Masters consistently provided the drama that suited the ABC viewers. In fact, her programme Sea Change was responsible for thrusting the station to the top of the national ratings. And then began one of the conundrums regarding the ABC – if it can rate as high as the commercials, should its role alter?

But back to 10 – they headhunt her, she goes, should be a win win – 10 picks up some quality progremming, Masters cashes up, ABC can develop new talent to replace her – easy right?

No, cause 10 are so reliably inept, they have stuffed it up completely. “Crash Burn”, dropped into the “appeal to the kids” marketing campaign which is all thet 10 have understood for years, would have rated its arse off on ABC, yet predictably, 10 market it incorrectly, fiddle its timeslot, drop it – quel surprise! That’s just a model of the skills in that train-wreck – don’t even get me started on their heinous contributions to sport!

What of the ABC? Despite protestations from blog fundies, it consistently turns up creative programming at a fraction of the cost of commercials, and rates close to 10 & 7 nationally. It’s survived engineering from both sides of the political spectrum time and again, what are you going to do with the old cockroach?

Close 10, grab The Simpsons, give it to the ABC!

Thanks god for The Sopranos though (you have to pay for it in the US Yob!) – did Monday’s ep fry your mind? Surely this week will be an explosion?

cheers

Rex
Rex
2022 years ago

OK ‘d’ Now the War Memorial and the AIS? Once you’ve given us your views on those we can then determine whether you’re a Fundamentalist or your against diversity of opinion.

yobbo
2022 years ago

So rex by your definition anyone who wants to privatise the ABC is either a “Fundamentalist” or wants to crush diversity of opinion. Doesn’t that kind of pigeonholing seem like *you* are the one trying to crush diversity of opinion?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Sam

Rex’s formulation does rather sound like Catch 22. But maybe it isn’t quite as unfair as it sounds. Rex presumably classifies a “fundamentalist” as someone who believes that diversity is best achieved and delivered through the private marketplace, and that government provision has a range of negative consequences that outweigh any benefits that might exist. It seems to me that this definition would encompass your views, and that you would probably be quite comfortable with it (the definition, that is). It’s the pejorative label “fundamentalist” that is giving you the shits. Would you feel better about a label such as “private enterprise universalist”?

David Tiley
2022 years ago

A fundamentalist is someone who crushes the world into a simple theory. The fundamentalist has superior insights, which the rest of us cannot understand. We are seen as either stupid or evil. If the theory is tried out and fails, then the theory was not applied properly.

Realists are people who strive for coherence but manage the fact that the world is a complex place, too large to comprehend, in which theory often simply doesn’t work. The answer is to get the best outcomes in a messy world. If something goes wrong, they try something different. They value learning.

Realists are patient, wise, sexy and powerful.

Of course this is not a biased formulation.

ps – to go back to the original formulation of the post, David Marr is a classic liberal in that he often bites the hand that feeds in the service of impartiality. This whole situation proves that.

The right thinks he doesn’t fang people because he is morally deficient. Actually he disagrees with them. And he is one very smart cookie.

Paul
2022 years ago

I’ve come in late, but better than ever. I’ve advocated closing down the AIS, or flogging it off, along with all ohter public assets. Two weeks after the olympics, who gives a shit how many medals were won? Track and fiels is as boring as dirt- which is why it has to be funded by taxpayers; ditto the ABC, assorted performing arts and myriad other things that vast majority of taxpayers never utilise. As far as the conent of the ABC goes, I think the bias is so entrenched they don’t even notice it any more, and are genuinely insulted when accussed of bias.
Tell me one thing that is provided through public means that can’t be provided more efficiently, in better quality and in a better timeframe privately, and I’ll eat a bucketful. If the media market was freed up, the ABC would dissapear in a matter of weeks- it holds the educated professional class in thrall due to a lack of opposition; a quality broadcaster without an ideological barrow would make a fortune- how many Mercedes buyers watch Big Brother? The ABC gets a large part of its audience by default.

yobbo
2022 years ago

Rex presumably classifies a “fundamentalist” as someone who believes that diversity is best achieved and delivered through the private marketplace, and that government provision has a range of negative consequences that outweigh any benefits that might exist. It seems to me that this definition would encompass your views, and that you would probably be quite comfortable with it (the definition, that is).

Im quite happy for the government to provide services where it’s difficult to make the user pay. E.G. Military, Police Force, Fire Departments, Roads etc. There aren’t any successful models that I know of to make the beneficiary pay for them.

There are at least two successful, proven methods to make the user pay for television broadcasting. One is free-to-air and ad supported, the other is by subscription like Foxtel. I don’t see why we need a third model when these two are perfectly satisfactory.

I just wish someone could explain to me why the ABC couldn’t be run as a premium subscription based channel like HBO?

The answer is simple: The welfare recipients (that is, you, rex, the rest of the defenders of the ABC), would simply prefer to force others to keep subsidising their viewing choices. I don’t see any other honest way of looking at it.

Peter Ransen
Peter Ransen
2022 years ago

Looks like the Meek will inherit the mirth.

Rex
Rex
2022 years ago

Good on ya Paul. At least you’ve got the courage of your convictions. A Fundamentalist down to your bootstraps.

Yobbo, You’ve gotta learn to use your imagination if you’re ever going to excel as a Fundi.

Let’s take Defence for example, now what’s to stop us outsourcing Defence like we do the prisons? Why not let the Americans tender for the job of running our entire defence establishment? Surely you wouldn’t have any negative views on the Americans? Surely they could be trusted to look after us.

Of course if you really wanted to save the poor taxpayer you’d open it up further than that. No doubt the Indonesians would be able to do it really cheaply with the cost of their labour being so low. Or maybe, you’d let the New Zealanders have a go, being part of the Anglosphere and all that, that’d be an incentive for those shirkers to buy themselves an airforce wouldn’t it?

See its easy once you get the hang of it.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

I am with geoff inthat we mainly watch ABC and SBS. Mainly though watching the beautiful game on SBS.
friday night now is very god from 8.30 on ABC.

If you allow for the laxness on leftwing types such as Adams then Marr does a good job on Mediawatch however shouldn’t someone point out to them that a journalist shouldn’t be doing it.

It is ironic in this instance the ABC loses money because of this absurd policy.

Lastly surely market forces is telling us the leftwing thought works on comedy, documentaries etc becasue they sell.
If there were rightwingers capable of it wouldn’t they be making money doing it.
My uneducated guess is the leftish audiciens will watch this stuff but rightish audiciences don’t, probably watching reality TV.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

The government can’t win with a public broadcaster. If we let any of the opinions in this thread loose in a long form documentary, it will be critical of the government. Maybe not explicitly, but at least it would look at the existing order of things and imply this is not the best possible world.

yobbo
2022 years ago

You’re just dribbling shit now Rex.