ABCDEFG

A couple of months ago, TAFKAS attended a forum held at the UTS school of journalism on the subject of public broadcasting. Conveniently, the the UTS school of journalism sits physically next to the ABC’s head quarters in Ultimo; the ABC and UTS buildings are literally right next door. The forum was held in the, TAFKAS kids you not, the Guthrie Theatre.

Most likely because of geography and content, the audience was full of ABC and SBS staff.

Before the forum commenced, while TAFKAS was fiddling with his telephone, he overheard a particular conversation between some of the ABC staff present. One gentleman, who looked not much older than 30-35 commented to his colleagues that he had just returned from 9 months of leave. Said gentleman also declared to his colleagues that one of his first engagements upon his return was to meet with his manager because, notwithstanding his 9 months of leave, his annual leave balance was still too high necessitating him taking more leave.

Clearly there is no further efficiencies to be had.

But the on the panel were 4 eminent speakers including Cat and former ABC Director Judith Sloan and the ABC’s head of news, Gaven Morris. There were 2 other panels whose names TAFKAS can’t remember; one was a lawyer and the other (TAFKAS thinks) was a member of some government review of media.  Essentially a very capable and eminent group.

TAFKAS  remembers that Gaven Morris was particularly passionate about public interest journalism (that is, the kind of deep and quality journalism that may not attract commercial advertising). The other thing that Morris and one of the other panelists (not Judith) were passionate about was Australian content in the Australian media.

Given the subject of the forum was the future of public broadcasting, no-one seemed to provide a case for the actual existence of public broadcasting.  Not public good.  Not market failure.  Not media diversity.  Not government propaganda.  It seemed most interesting that the only justifications presented for public broadcasting did not require the existence of public broadcasting.  It is evident that public interest journalism and Australian media content requirements can be delivered through many means other than public broadcasting.

To wit, there has been much written and said on the Cat and other places about the ABC. Its bias. Its inefficiency. Its inner city centricity.

Various reform options have been canvassed including privatising, defunding and just shutting down. Much has been said about both options, especially given our Dear Doom Lord Leader has co-written a book advocating for such. But while TAFKAS would like to see both or either of these options advanced, he does not think that they are politically palatable. At least for the time being.

TAFKAS, in an earlier incarnation, suggested a structural separation of the ABC between content production and content distribution. No one has taken TAFKAS’ structural separation idea on board, so here is another one.

Why not create a giant ABC regulatory and licencing regime that will apply to the ABC. A regime that will include things like:

  • A public broadcasting licence regime with special conditions which can be modified administratively;
  • A public broadcasting remuneration and accountability regime;
  • A public broadcasting efficiency regulator and energy use regulator;
  • A Public Broadcasting Content Diversity Commissioner within the Human Rights Commission.

Yes for sure this would be piling crap upon crap. But it would necessitate a significant diversion of ABC management time and resources into compliance and away from the business of producing whatever the ABC produces. And the government should not given them 1 extra cent of resources to do this.

If this regulatory response sounds familiar, it is similar to the regulatory environment most Australian businesses have to navigate – additional overhead for no additional value or social or economic outcomes. If nothing else, it might result in some empathy from the ABC as to the cost and overhead of the regulations they generally advocate on everyone else.

Yes, yes, yes. This is a complete waste of public resources. But that is what contemporary government is about. Taking tax payer resources to make a mess and then rather than go into reverse, keep piling in more tax payer resources to fix the mess the first attempt caused; and on and on.

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38 Responses to ABCDEFG

  1. MACK

    Significant organisational change can only come from the top – the ABC needs a Minister who will appoint a chairman who will appoint a CEO who will fix the waste and the bias. Nothing else will work.

  2. B.A.Lert

    The abc exists to facilitate its own existence. It is a self sucking tit.

  3. Dr Fred Lenin

    Pretty complex TAFKAS, if you want efficiency you hive off country broadcasting as a separate entity ,then privatise the abc/sbs on the ASX ,pay off entitlements ,pensions with shares in the new company,call it Red Broadcasting P/ L ,lease oremises and equipment to the Reds at commercial rates and let them keep running the propaganda machine at their own expense, now thats what I call “fairness”. innit ?

  4. The BigBlueCat

    Here’s another thought – with the ABC competing against commercial media outlets and social media, why don’t we just shut the ABC down? Or sell it? Downsize it?

  5. Rex Mango

    The ABC should be privatised upon the simple expediency of separation of church and state.

  6. The Federal Government should create an independent ABC Ombudsman/Ombudsperson.

    This office would be responsible for handling all complaints about the ABC. Its remit would be to ensure that there is absolute transparency in all the activities of the ABC.

    It would also police the way the ABC conforms or does not conform to its charter.

    It would have powers of imposing significant fines for breaches of the charter or the continuation of bias in all aspects of the ABC’s activities.

    The money for the Ombudsman/Ombudsperson would come from the abolition of the various fact-checking groups connected with the ABC and from a transfer away from ABC staff and resources to the Ombudsman/Ombudsperson of the organisation’s various complaints and fact-checking offices.

  7. nb

    Simple: Require the ABC to have advertising, like SBS. Limit the advertising so it does not compete too much with the commercial media outlets.

  8. Karabar

    If government were not confined to think in short three year intervals, and were truly acting in the interests of the nation, it would simply cut back on the funding for several years and starve the beast into submission.

  9. Dr Fred Lenin

    Who ? in their right mind would pay to sponsorQA? Or any of the famous alpbc “comedians” that only laugh at their own “jokes? ” sponsoring these maggots would be counter productive . Follow the Dr Fred Solution get rid of the useless aussie pravda use the money to pay back career politician incurred debt ,cut the interest burden on the taxpayers.Just think in ten years $12 billion off the debt .

  10. stackja

    Make most of the ABC subscription. If the ‘Friends’ want it, let them pay for it.

  11. Roger

    Significant organisational change can only come from the top – the ABC needs a Minister who will appoint a chairman who will appoint a CEO who will fix the waste and the bias. Nothing else will work.

    Except the CEO’s role is apparently not to ensure the public gets value for money from a national broadcaster that sticks to its charter, but to be an advocate for ABC staff and their ethos at board level.

    It’s a dysfunctional set up that could only exist in the public sector.

    Privatise the thing; those who want to watch it can pay for it.

  12. Pedro the Ignorant

    Put the whole shebang on eBay.

    Bidding to open at $1.50.

  13. Arky

    The other thing that Morris and one of the other panelists (not Judith) were passionate about was Australian content in the Australian media.

    ..
    If offshoring is good enough for the rest of us, it is good enough for our elites.
    If no Australian is required to make socks or cars, then no Australian is required to make “content”.
    See how that works? Arseholes?
    No Australian made clothing, no Australian made programming.

  14. Hasbeen

    A simple answer is to move the ABC head office & main production facility to Bourke. Most of the inner city centric staff would either die of boredom out there, or resign to get back to the city. Those that stayed would be forced to actually meet some real Australians. The shock may be too much for them, but so what.

    State headquarters & production facilities should be similarly moved to a reasonably central part of each state. Charleville would be a good spot in Qld. for example.

    We would have to closely monitor travel arrangements so we weren’t paying for staff to fly to major cities for personal reasons, god knows these people are used to such perks. Given long enough some just might become citizens of Oz, rather than the incestuous inner cities they currently inhabit.

  15. Wallace

    Merge the ABC with CCTV.
    Would you notice any difference?

  16. Percy Popinjay

    no-one seemed to provide a case for the actual existence of public broadcasting

    Funnily enough, that would be because there isn’t one.

  17. Dr Fred Lenin

    Hasben . Might b e a good idea to move the Hgh Court to Bourke too , they can get a realistic View of aboriginality at work , I use the word work tongue in cheek . There is nothing more corrective of SJW than a big dose of Reality ,personal safety is stronger than dogma , martyrs are rare on the left ,just like altruistic benefactors , rare as hens teeth .

  18. Nato

    Looking at his phone?
    I’m sorry for assuming the incorrect gender in my previous comments. Won’t let it happen again.
    I am sorry.

  19. Percy Popinjay

    the business of producing whatever the ABC produces

    Hot air and horseshit, 24/7/365.

    Require the ABC to have advertising, like SBS. Limit the advertising so it does not compete too much with the commercial media outlets.

    Sod that. Just shut the bloody monstrosity down and fire them all (preferably out of cannon into an impenetrable wall or off a very high cliff).

    There is no other logical course of action.

  20. RobK

    Whilst i understand TAFKAS’s frustration, i think Percy has the answer.

  21. Rococo Liberal

    I go to quite a fewparties and functions these days where I meet a doctor’s wife type of person who tells me his or (mostly) her fear that the ABC will be shut down by the Coalition. You can picture the type. She’s usually of a certain age, dowdy but with one weird item of clothing (like Anabelle Crab’s red specs on Election night) and a buzzcut and no make-up. She’s incredibly earnest and probably has a part time job in some charity or government qango, whilst hubby, if he’s still around actually does something useful in business or the professions. Most interestingly, she is really a philistine in that she only reads what Aunty tells her to read and then thinks about what she’s read in the way Aunty says.
    It inevitably turns out that these strong supporters of the ABC care a fig about the news and current affairs offerings of the ABC. What they like is the BBC drama, the comedy, the docos and the cultural shows on TV and radio.
    After a bit I can usually get them to agree that the real ABC could be preserved if we only got rid of the news and current affairs part of the organisation.
    I’m pretty sure we could thus solve the ABC problem if we honed our argument down to the point that there is no need for a publicly funded news service anymore, as the public can its news from a myraid of sources. The bush is now just as well served as the city in this regard.
    The ABC could be tasked with providing certain services to rural areas, such as news on farming issues etc.

  22. RobK

    The ABC could be tasked with providing certain services to rural areas, such as news on farming issues etc.
    Nah. They arent particularly good at that either.

  23. Des Deskperson

    Speaking of ABC inefficiency:

    News.com’s website had a report up at 1,25 pm on the Wodonga IED discovery

    the ABC news website has yet to report it, or if it has, i cant find it .

    This sort of tardiness is increasingly typical of ABC news.

  24. Kingsley

    As others have said above the first important do-able steps are advertising at SBS levels and a Netflix style subscription. Those changes can not be attacked as shutting down the ABC but they are excellent preliminary steps towards privatisation. The debate needs to be shaped as “we are not destroying/shutting down the ABC just positioning it to pay for more of its own expenditure” with ultimate aim of being completely weaned off the taxpayer teat.
    This is a war that will have to be won bit by bit. Demanding instant shut down or privatisation will never happen so it is pointless in achieving that aim. We need to boil this frog slowly.

  25. The BigBlueCat

    Hasbeen
    #3030599, posted on May 31, 2019 at 11:47 am
    A simple answer is to move the ABC head office & main production facility to Bourke.

    Bourke just called – they don’t want them. They asked, “What have we ever done to you?”

  26. Dr Fred Lenin

    All you nasty people advocating the demise of the taxpayer funded propagands arm of the gangrene /union party are nasty extreme right wing trumpist indoctrinated criminals . To advocate the left pay their own money for their propaganda is a mortal sin,they neer pay for anything with their own money ,the government should pay . Thats how it works comrade .

  27. Texas Jack

    There are only three words that matter when discussing the “future” of the ABC –

    FUCK

    IT

    OFF

  28. Roger

    News.com’s website had a report up at 1,25 pm on the Wodonga IED discovery

    the ABC news website has yet to report it, or if it has, i cant find it .

    They’re trying to find Wodonga on a map, Des.

  29. areff

    A simple answer is to move the ABC head office & main production facility to Bourke.

    Andamooka.

  30. Des Deskperson

    ‘They’re trying to find Wodonga on a map, Des.’

    That’s cos it’s not (quite) in NSW.

    Remember when the band ‘Killing Heidi’, from the Goulburn Vally in Victoria, won some ABC rural band comp and all the Sydney-centric ABC dills thought they were from Goulburn NSW.

  31. gowest

    The other thing that Morris and one of the other panelists (not Judith) were passionate about was Australian content in the Australian media.

    The Australian content of AL jezeera, BBC, CBS anti conservative propaganda is the big exception…. well unmentionable in your school session.
    Advertisements!!! come-on — Get rid of this O/S propaganda and ABC, SBS self promotion ads. Replace them with u-tube conservative feeds of Jonova or the outsiders , then the ABC would have something worth watching. Those self promotion ads are the pits!

  32. Des Deskperson

    ‘The debate needs to be shaped as “we are not destroying/shutting down the ABC just positioning it to pay for more of its own expenditure” ‘

    A step in the right direction, but here in Canberra, at least, the friends (formal of informal) of the ABC are a sort of cult, seeing the broadcaster as no just a source of information and entertainment but as a symbol of intellectual and cultural purity unsullied, so to speak, by commerce and profit. These types – often elderlyish with multiple credentials but with safely lower middlebrow tastes – seem to get a great deal moral satisfaction from the fact that they ‘never watch commercial TV’ – even SBS is suspect.

    The fanatics are not, I suspect, confined to Canberra and are likely to fight any even the least hint of ‘commercialisation’. Luckily, many of them will die soon .

  33. Natural Instinct

    Roll the news and current affairs (and staff) into ABC24 only – without ads which could “compromise impartiality”, and thus Taxpayer support would be needed – for now.
    Leave ABC2, ABC22 as entertainment stations (no news) with advertisements – income equal to expenses – no support from Taxpayers
    Separate management and corporate roles for the two above.
    .
    Reevaluate after 5 years
    .
    P.S. Radio – not sure but probably flog off.

  34. Squirrel

    “The other thing that Morris and one of the other panelists (not Judith) were passionate about was Australian content in the Australian media.”

    Ironic when you consider that the ABC is, to a considerable extent, just a ‘Strayan outlet for BBC and ITV, with a smattering of American stuff thrown in.

    The local content funding for drama and docos etc. should be extracted from the ABC and put up for grabs where it could be pooled with money from State government etc. sources, with the resultant products shown on the ABC or a commercial network, depending on who wins the funding. That might give a chance to a wider range of creative types, and produce things which are worth watching as entertainment, without the heavy-handed PC/identity politics bulldust which so often permeates ABC offerings.

  35. Davey Boy

    Bourke?
    Andamooka?
    Pfffft move it to Cunnamulla!

  36. Boambee John

    Des Deskperson
    #3030744, posted on May 31, 2019 at 2:32 pm
    Speaking of ABC inefficiency:

    News.com’s website had a report up at 1,25 pm on the Wodonga IED discovery

    the ABC news website has yet to report it, or if it has, i cant find it .

    This sort of tardiness is increasingly typical of ABC news.

    If it turns out to be connected with the religion of pieces, it will never be mentioned.

    If it can in any way be linked with “white supremacists”, we will never hear the end of it.

  37. John Stankevicius

    Big blue cat – I remember that line from Bewtched too – a cracker

  38. RobK:

    “The ABC could be tasked with providing certain services to rural areas, such as news on farming issues etc”.
    Nah. They aren’t particularly good at that either.

    Only if the farmers are Gay Vegans producing Transgender Llamas using recycled biomass for power.

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