Un-Australian Activity

The more we pay, the less we get.

In the 1998 financial year the ABC drew $555,991,000 from the public purse, the equivalent of $853,467,000 in 2013 dollars.

In 2013, the ABC received $1,023,700,000 from Treasury, an increase of 20% over 15 years in real terms.

The result: more repeats and more overseas programs. In the average hour of prime time in 1997-1998, the ABC TV broadcast 27 minutes and 41 seconds of first-release Australian television:

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 9.39.17 AM

In 2012-2013 ABC1 broadcast 22 minutes and 22 seconds of first-release Australian prime-time television per hour, a reduction of 19.2%.Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 9.38.28 AM

As Paul Keating once said:

We pay them more than the state of Tasmania. Do we get value for it? It’s a moot point.

Sources: ABC Annual Report 1997-1998, ABC Annual Report 2012-13

Update: Dollar values are in $(000).

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56 Responses to Un-Australian Activity

  1. H B Bear

    Presumably foreign repeats is up due to the Stephen Fry effect, who serves the same purpose on the ALPBC as the Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men on Nine. Still it frees up cash to pay balanced, objective journalists like Fran “I’m an activist” Kelly and Jon Paine.

    Who are we to complain anyway?

  2. eb

    Australian content went from over 32 mins to under 28 mins!
    Of course, if only they had more money they could increase the Aussie content…HAH!

  3. johanna

    Nick, Marc over at ABCNewsWatch has been collecting statistics on the “productivity” of ABC journalists for quite a few years now.

    You will not be surprised to hear that while their numbers increase constantly, the output per person has been steadily dropping.

  4. Rabz

    Colour me completely unsurprised.

    (Insert the Mantra here).

  5. Aynsley Kellow

    I think you have neglected to convert what are probably given in your source as ” ’000″. As I recall, the ABC allocation is a little over $1 billion, so it would be $1,023,700,000 – or $1.023 billion.

  6. Token

    The result: more repeats and more overseas programs.

    How many $ in public funds is being wasted on licenses/fees to overseas content providers?

    I’d like to see a graph of the # of hours next to this – consider the fact the ABC had 1 TV channel in 97/98 and 3 now, so the absolute # of hours of foreign content being imported will have increased in a way that is well beyond the proportions shown above.

  7. Julian mclaren

    Missing a few zeros!

  8. Sinclair Davidson

    So what happened to Australian voices telling Australian stories?

  9. Aussieute

    Is Paul Keating correct?
    I’ve seen that statement attributed to him before, but nothing to say he said it.

    The next step is to discover the truth … does the federal Guvverment pay more to ABC than Tas?

    If so then clearly the choice is there to be made
    Cut the ABC or Cut Tasmania.

    What a mind blowing decision

  10. Anne

    If so then clearly the choice is there to be made
    Cut the ABC or Cut Tasmania.

    Yeah, cut Tasmania! Turn it into a Capitalist paradise – low taxes, pro-business, minuscule government and no welfare! If you can’t or won’t get a job, back to the Mainland with you!

    Oh…and shut down the ABC!

  11. Mike of Marion

    And the ABC miss out on a lot of BBC programmes after July 1

  12. Andrew

    But at least it is good to see that little children are donating money to the ABC so it survives as a National Broadcaster /sarc

    http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2014/02/06/3939162.htm

  13. Squirrel

    Whether it’s home-grown or imported, when I look at the ABC TV offerings, I don’t see too much that is worthy of compulsory funding through the tax system – even if measured against a more forgiving standard than “advantageous to a great society”, or addressing “market failure”. As currently worded, the ABC Charter provides scope for them to do just about whatever they like – and that seems to be what they do.

    My guess (and that’s honestly all it is) is that any reduction in the proportion of local content has helped to fund the over-ambitious “news” activities (which seem to need quite a bit of padding, at times) and also that public sector organisations tend to see regular, CPI-plus remuneration adjustments as a written-in-stone entitlement for those on their payrolls – so unless funding is increased comfortably in excess of CPI, services to the public tend to suffer due to increasing pressure from staffing costs.

  14. As Paul Keating once said:

    We pay them more than the state of Tasmania. Do we get value for it? It’s a moot point.

    If the ABC could be moved lock, stock and smoking ideological barrel to Tasmania, and the border then sealed, it might work quite well.

    Failing that, the ABC needs to open all its offices up for eco-tourism. Instead of climbing Cradle Mountain, you get to climb Tony Jones, or ‘Old Snowcone’ as the locals lovingly describe it. Once atop Old Snowcone, you can enjoy the sweeping panorama of miles of unspoilt ideological wasteland, uninterrupted by rational thought.

    Or just think of the beauties of the rich rainforest of the 7.30 Report studio. There, under a canopy of taxpayer’s dollars, you can walk along carefully-constructed bush paths winding through the producer’s office, the canteen, and past the huddled journalists in their ‘alcoves’, working quietly away as they undermine the Abbott government. Occasionally a greater-crested dominant male might flutter across your path, like Kerry O’Brien, who is easily identified by his suspiciously persistent ginger plumage.

  15. Baldrick

    Personally 5 minutes less of cringe-worthy Australian produced television is a good thing and the lower it goes, the better.

  16. Des Deskperson

    ‘does the federal Guvverment pay more to ABC than Tas?’

    According to the 2013-14 Tasmanian Budget, the total Commonwealth Grants to be provided for that period – GST, specific payments, shared projects etc – is $2.8509 billion, a bit more that the ABC’s $1.023 billion.

    Of course, Commonwealth grants provide around 60% of Tasmania’s income, much more than most mainland states and territories (SA is the other mendicant). I don’t know whether this was the case (basket case??) in Keating’s day.

  17. Rabz

    it is good to see that little children are donating money to the ABC

    Li’l Gracie the sock-puppet rides again!

  18. Rabz

    Six-year-old Isabelle from Diamond Creek became worried about the future of the ALPBC in January.

    Sorry – this is even more ridiculous than I realised.

    What sort of six year would give a rodent’s backside about the frigging ALPBC?

    Oh, that’s right, one with hysterical leftist dunderheads (BIRM) for parents.

    :x

  19. Driftforge

    If the ABC could be moved lock, stock and smoking ideological barrel to Tasmania, and the border then sealed, it might work quite well.

    Move it to Hobart, and we can then cut that bit out of Tasmania. No one up here in the north would miss it.

  20. Steve D

    Actually, Isabelle may just be showing the way – let the ABC run in community funding instead of tax dollars.

  21. Des Deskperson

    ‘Six-year-old Isabelle from Diamond Creek became worried about the future of the ALPBC in January’

    So she should be nagging her parents to go to the ABC shop and buy her a Peppa Pig doll or a Giggle and Hoot bedspread or a Chuggington toy loco or whatever other gaudy crap ABC4Kids is urging kids to want.

  22. Cold-Hands

    Is Paul Keating correct?
    I’ve seen that statement attributed to him before, but nothing to say he said it.

    Nick Cater used the line before in Dec 2012. There are no other mentions on the web.

  23. rickw

    An obscene amount of money. Most businesses operate on down to flat, not up at 15% !!

    What does the equivalent chart for free to air look like?

  24. Actually, Isabelle may just be showing the way – let the ABC run in community funding instead of tax dollars.

    Eyup.

    Sausage sizzles outside Bunnings.

    Flogging t-shirts saying ‘It’s my ABC’.

    Lamington drives. They could name a cake after Snowcone.

  25. Steve D

    Wouldn’t a snowcone be a vanilla Slurpee?

  26. Des Deskperson

    Philippa, I’m convinced that ‘At Home with Julia’, far from being any sort of satire, was actually an attempt to humanise Julia and Tim – two people with, well, unusual histories in terms of relationships – as just another Aussie couple coping with the ups and downs of conjugal life, your old style domestic sitcom with a bumbling but loveable mum and dad who just happen to live in the Lodge.

    So far as I recall, the series involved no serious critique whatever of Gillard’s policies or performance as PM. A decent satire would at least have had a go at Tim’s bromance with Barry Cassidy.

  27. lotocoti

    Personally 5 minutes less of cringe-worthy Australian produced television is a good thing and the lower it goes, the better.

    Your wish is their command.
    First run Australian drama is down 16 hours from 2011-12.

  28. Philippa, I’m convinced that ‘At Home with Julia’, far from being any sort of satire, was actually an attempt to humanise Julia and Tim – two people with, well, unusual histories in terms of relationships – as just another Aussie couple coping with the ups and downs of conjugal life, your old style domestic sitcom with a bumbling but loveable mum and dad who just happen to live in the Lodge.

    So far as I recall, the series involved no serious critique whatever of Gillard’s policies or performance as PM. A decent satire would at least have had a go at Tim’s bromance with Barry Cassidy.

    Who said anything about it being satire?

    All I could see was an extensive advertisement for the next election campaign, created by an ABC echo chamber driven by the mantra ‘We must make people like her, so they will vote for her forever’.

    That worked out well, didn’t it. For everyone, I mean.

  29. Des Deskperson

    ‘Who said anything about it being satire?’

    You obviously grasped what it was about, but a lot of ABC-ophiles have been banging on recently out how a ‘satire’ of the PM proves that the ABC is unbiased and independent (as well as how ‘edgy’, ‘transgressive’ and ‘irreverent’ it is). Obviously they either (a) never watched it or (b) are stupid or (c) are mendacious.

  30. but a lot of ABC-ophiles have been banging on recently out how a ‘satire’ of the PM proves that the ABC is unbiased and independent (as well as how ‘edgy’, ‘transgressive’ and ‘irreverent’ it is). Obviously they either (a) never watched it or (b) are stupid or (c) are mendacious.

    Who? I thought the whole thing was buried as quickly as possible. I’m surprised I can even find it on YouTube.

    In fact, it’s really hard to find a Labor voter today of any kind who even admits that there was a Labor government between 2007 and 2013. It’s like there’s just this vague cloud, and then suddenly Tony Abbott appeared from nowhere, like some visitation from the Goddess.

  31. Des Deskperson

    Philippa, several Canberra Times correspondents, but I suppose that proves your point!

  32. Philippa, several Canberra Times correspondents, but I suppose that proves your point!

    Ahhhh, the centre of the universe. How silly of me.

    :)

  33. Leigh Lowe

    My wife was keen to watch an episode of “The Moodies” last night.
    She thinks I am too quick to dismiss the local content shit served up by the ABC.
    About half-way through there was a scene where the bogan Moodies were having an Australia Day beach BBQ which was interuppted by an aboriginal family who claimed they had reserved the picnic spot earlier.
    Can you see what they did there? A little Australia Day parable about dispossession. Brilliant!!
    My wife simply said “OK. Enough. Put something else on”

  34. About half-way through there was a scene where the bogan Moodies were having an Australia Day beach BBQ which was interuppted by an aboriginal family who claimed they had reserved the picnic spot earlier.
    Can you see what they did there? A little Australia Day parable about dispossession. Brilliant!!
    My wife simply said “OK. Enough. Put something else on”

    O tempora o mores.

    I am reminded once again of Ambrose Silk in Put Out More Flags: ‘You can positively hear her imagination creaking, as she does them, like a pair of old, old corsets, my dear, on a harridan.’

  35. Leigh Lowe

    ‘Six-year-old Isabelle from Diamond Creek became worried about the future of the ALPBC in January’

    Here’s the thing.
    Assume the total Federal outlays are $375 billion and the ABC bleeds $1 billion of this (about 0.3% of total budget outlays).
    I figure that our household pays about $200 each year for the ABC.
    Where’s my certificate of apreciation, Scotty?
    At least Isabella’s contribution was voluntary.

  36. Leigh Lowe

    O tempora o mores.

    Don’t be usin’ your fancy foreign talk on me missy!

  37. Gab

    ‘Six-year-old Isabelle from Diamond Creek became worried about the future of the ALPBC in January’

    Is she not worried about it in February? What’s changed?

  38. Squirrel

    “Leigh Lowe

    #1179756, posted on February 6, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    My wife was keen to watch an episode of “The Moodies” last night.
    She thinks I am too quick to dismiss the local content shit served up by the ABC.
    About half-way through there was a scene where the bogan Moodies were having an Australia Day beach BBQ which was interuppted by an aboriginal family who claimed they had reserved the picnic spot earlier.
    Can you see what they did there? A little Australia Day parable about dispossession. Brilliant!!
    My wife simply said “OK. Enough. Put something else on””

    Even with a late start, and regular commercial breaks, and generously laced with its own stereotypes, Sherlock was far more entertaining than this clunkiness.

  39. Is she not worried about it in February? What’s changed?

    Many things. For example, Jake from Grade 1 has thrown her over for Olivia because she’s got nicer hair and her mum brings cake to school.

  40. Leigh Lowe

    Even with a late start, and regular commercial breaks, and generously laced with its own stereotypes, Sherlock was far more entertaining than this clunkiness.

    Yeah, I was a bit prejudicial about Sherlock on the basis of a very annoying high rotation promo.
    Time to reconsider perhaps.
    The Moodies has all the production standards and incisive writing one would expect from the Mt Gambier Players musical theatre group.

  41. Token
    ‘Six-year-old Isabelle from Diamond Creek became worried about the future of the ALPBC in January’

    Is she not worried about it in February? What’s changed?

    She has been a bit hard to contact since she had her Ipad privileges revoked for not cleaning her room by her dad.

  42. Leigh Lowe

    Can you see what they did there? A little Australia Day parable about dispossession. Brilliant!!

    Seriously, that is the problem with the ABC and Fewfacts. They simply cannot produce anything without weaving in their favourite soap-box issues (global warming, aborigines, asylum seekers, whatever) no matter how tenuous the link to the core subject matter.
    I was talking with friends over the weekend about what a great series “Breakin’ Bad” was, but we then went on to joke about what would have happened if it was an ABC production. We made the following amendments:-
    – The White family would have lived next door to a family of wet-back Mexican illegal immigrants, who would have put the whole (white) neighbourhood to shame with their hard-working and impeccable ethics;
    – Brother-in-law Hank (the DEA agent) would have taken bribes and kicked the shit out of local black kids (as all white law enforcement officers do);
    – Walter’s wife would have done part time charity work for the local dispossessed and downtrodden Albuquerque Indian tribe;
    In other words, they would have taken an A-Grade script and fucked it.

  43. Leigh Lowe

    Isabella is from Diamond Creek.
    For those not familiar with Melbourne, Diamond Creek is near Eltham.
    That is, hippies, greenies and ageing Get-Up members.
    Per capita, it has more recumbent bicycles, 1970’s Skoda’s and macramé supply shops than anywhere else in Australia.

  44. MacBeth

    Ah.. Diamond Creek. Fabian backwater.

  45. entropy

    If people are worried about B1&B2 then surely all the Australian government needs to do when it shuts the ABC down and sacks them all, is to pay channel 7 to do the show (not channel ten, it would not improve on the current offering). One hell of a lot cheaper.

  46. Des Deskperson

    But the ABC doesn’t even make Bananas in Pajamas anymore, it’s now an animated show bought from a private company, Southern Cross. I wonder how much of the animation is done in Australia.

    BTW. according to Wiki, there’s a Montessori school in Diamond Creek, I’ll bet that’s where Isabella attends!

    m

  47. Habib

    The reral question is, why is government forcing us to pay for a medium that belittles and ignores us in equal measure, and always insults our intelligence? And that’s just us with an IQ above room temperature- what about the vast majority, who barely know of its existence?

  48. Habib

    & the Australian voices telling Australian stories are the same revenue ticks who do like in the fillum “industry”, telling stories from within their own self-selected miniscule bubble, which are avoided like aluminium siding salesmen by paying punters.

  49. Des Deskperson

    ‘Australian voices telling Australian stories ‘

    Yet another example of progressivism and Fascism (and also racism) coalescing.

    Substitute ‘Italian’ for ‘Australian’ in the above and you have a good summary of Mussolini’s policy of ‘cultural autarchy’ c. 1925.

  50. Greebo

    It’s a pity Isabella isn’t old enough to remember when Aunty aired “The Great Climate Conspiracy”, with it’s panel of talking heads debunking the program before we even got to see it.

    She probably would cheer, as no doubt An Inconvenient Truth has been force fed since Kinder.

    Funny, I thought education was about learning, not indoctrination.

  51. Leo G

    And that’s just us with an IQ above room temperature- what about the vast majority, who barely know of its existence?

    That’s an IQ of 20 or more , if room temperature is taken to be 20 degree Celsius. Only 1 person in 22 million should have an IQ of 20 or below.

  52. alexnoaholdmate

    My wife was keen to watch an episode of “The Moodies” last night.

    My God! Leigh Lowe is a man????

  53. Gordon of 2902

    With more money we got less local content. Therefore with less money we will get more local content. What do we want? When do we want it? How do we get it?

  54. Bons

    The fact that this discussion is occurring is significant. The repressed majority who are increasingly concerned about the ABC’s behaviour have finally found their voice. It dominates the letters pages. We have turned the corner – the hounds will continue to track down every ABC outrage.
    The ABC’s Masada event is approaching and it is all their own work – Australian content one might say.

  55. james

    The fact that this discussion is occurring is significant. The repressed majority who are increasingly concerned about the ABC’s behaviour have finally found their voice.

    Yes but the left and their friends have gone into full frenzy mode. They may be a minority, but they are a minority used to getting what they want, when they want it.

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