The empire strikes back with a wet lettuce leaf

After my AFR piece on the weekend, their ABC have responded.

Sinclair Davidson writing in the Australian Financial Review has presented a basket case of inaccuracies about the role of the ABC and its value to Australians.

A basket case of inaccuracies.  Heh. That’s a bit rude. But warming to the theme:

Mr Davidson, a professor of economics at the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub, is also listed as an adjunct fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and is the co-author of the publication “Against Public Broadcasting: why we should privatise the ABC and how to do it”.

That’s Doctor Davidson – but I suppose this is representative of the care and attention the ABC displays to the discovery and presentation of facts.

His 15 January piece “The ABC no longer has a purpose” displays a lack of understanding of the critical role of public broadcasters such as the ABC in the modern media age.

Having just told the world, that I’m a professor of economics and I’ve co-authored a whole book on public broadcasting, they now claim – with zero substantiation – that I don’t understand public broadcasting.

And the main contention – that Australian audiences are not as reliant on ABC services as they once were – is blatantly wrong.

Got that? Blatantly wrong!

In 2020 Australians turned to the ABC in record numbers, highlighting its role as Australia’s most trusted and valued media organisation.

Now they just repeating themselves.

Let’s look at the claims:

ABC News was the nation’s #1 digital news brand every month for the past 12 months.

Brand recognition? Seriously? I recognise Lamborghini as a brand – doesn’t mean I drive one. This is their original claim simply rebranded, if you’ll excuse the pun.

ABC News’s average daily digital audience is up 79% on 2019 to 2.2 million people and its average monthly audience is 38% higher at 12.5 million.

According to the ABS, the Australian population is 25.6 million. So 2.2 million is a very small number. So 8.6% of Australians use that #1 digital news brand.

ABC TV was the #3 network in 2020, for the first time since 2013.

There are only 4 networks. That means that #3 is really second last.

The ABC News channel achieved its highest-ever monthly reach in March of 6.4 million viewers.

Artificially boosted by the ABCs status as an emergency broadcaster, broadcasting both the bushfire crisis and the COVID pandemic.  Even then, the dodgy ‘reach’ number is a mere 25% of the population.

ABC TV was the only free-to-air network to experience significant growth in reach in 2020 (up 1.4 percentage points on 2019 to 46.9%).

Again, bushfires and the daily tune in to listen to the state premiers explain their latest COVID policy.

ABC Kids is the #1 channel among children, achieving a share of 53% among 0-4 year olds. ABC Kids is also #1 among 5-12s during daytime, with ABC ME in 2nd place.

Now we’re talking. The only instance where the ABC scores above 50%. Kids between the ages of 0 and 4 years of age. But, of course, this is crowding out as was reported in The Australian a few years ago.

ABC Radio was the nation’s #1 radio network in 2020 with a share of 25.3% (combined metro, regional and national). In total, our radio networks also reached 37.2% of listeners across the five major capitals.

100% – 25.3% = 74.7% of Australians do not listen to ABC Radio. The dodgy ‘reach’ number isn’t much better; 100% – 37.2% = 62.8% of Australians were not reached by ABC Radio.

All ABC Radio networks increased their share and reach this year.

One would hope so, what with so many people not being at work. Mind you, even their increased share and reach numbers are still pretty low.

15 of the top 20 ABC TV programs in 2020, across broadcast and ABC iview, were Australian.

Hardly surprising, but so what?

But the question remains. What exactly have I gotten blatantly wrong? With the exception of infants and very young children (aged 0 – 4) there is simply no majority of Australians reliant on the ABC. They were the second worst television network in Australia in 2020. By their own admission.  Close to 75% of Australians do not listen to ABC radio.

So bottom line – The ABC has confirmed my observation:

ABC apologists often point to survey results showing how many Australians “trust” the ABC as an organisation. Yet media rating data suggests few of those very same Australians actually consume their product. Australians “trust” and value the ABC because they are in the habit of doing so, not because they are overly familiar with ABC offerings.

Note that their ABC did not even attempt to rebut the substance of my argument – the ABC is an anachronism that simply cannot be reformed … and these people are calling me the basket case?

This entry was posted in Shut it down. Fire them all., Taking out the trash. Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to The empire strikes back with a wet lettuce leaf

  1. H B Bear says:

    Does anybody know the source of that”most trusted News”BS? That really grates.

  2. Rex Anger says:

    Superb induced flinch, my Doomlord.

    When’s the next one going to be delivered? 😁

  3. H B Bear says:

    A billion dollars a year to outrate the permanently insolvent Ten network is some achievement.

  4. H B Bear says:

    Maybe a Lieboral will be shamed into action. Do they even experience shame?

  5. Bronson says:

    ABC all the news we can make up and get away with. Why would you expect accuracy from the abc?

  6. Snoopy says:

    Sodomy Before Sleep makes five?

  7. Tel says:

    Sinclair, you sound a little bit miffed.

  8. Sinclair Davidson says:

    Yep – putting out rubbish like this is an insult to everyone’s intelligence.

  9. candy says:

    The ABC by “basketcase” mean Professor Davidson goes into the “basket of deplorables” that Hilary Clinton talked about – white, racist, homophobes bad people.

    That’s why they use the term “basketcase” – stole it from Hilary Clinton.

    In my opinion, at the end of the day the ABC entertains and is directed to about 10% of Australians who are Greens and quite left peoples. They have their own TV station for free addressing interests dear to their heart.

  10. Miksa says:

    “Basket case” is just another example of the semi-literacy of ABC (and, to be fair, the great majority of all Australian) journalists. You can see they just meant “basket” – unless they really did mean “basket case” but just could not frame a sentence properly to use the expression correctly.

    I am a long-term ABC watcher simply because I cannot stand the drivel and advertising on the commercial stations, but I hardly ever bother now. Every night is filled with tedious repeats or, if there is anything new, it is usually piss-poor ‘comedy’ (some unfunny jerk shouting his/her entirely predictable opinions at the audience) or equally predictable ‘commentary’ recycled from the news and that day’s radio interviews. Nobody with any other political or social views ever gets a look-in. Even the television news is dull – same stories as everyone else with a heavy dose of do-gooder items about one minority or another.

    Why are we paying a billion every year for this stuff?

  11. JohnJJJ says:

    last week my wife listened to me once. Today it was twice. THAT IS A 100% increase in my audience. Statistics don’t lie.

  12. Dave in Marybrook says:

    Can any Cat break that story out of the Oz paywall, about the ABC crushing the kids’ tv competition?
    One “startup” called Kindling was strangled in the nursery iirc

  13. Rob MW says:

    ABC Kids is the #1 channel among children, achieving a share of 53% among 0-4 year olds. ABC Kids is also #1 among 5-12s during daytime, with ABC ME in 2nd place.

    Lol……….. cheap babysitters is all. I’m amazed that 0-4 year olds can be this discerning about what they watch. I’m still trying to clean out the peanut butter from the dvd player from the last visit by my daughter and my 16 month old granddaughter toddler.

  14. Megan says:

    If the ABC really believed the rubbish it puts out then I challenge them to ask for a referendum on their value to the nation or a run a significant survey with a strong methodology that captures a representative cross section of actual Australians and not the bedwetting offendopotomi It will never happen. They are beyond redemption and a basket case in their own lunch boxes.

  15. custard says:

    Great work Doomlord.

  16. lotocoti says:

    TEN gave up on news a while back, so they’re still running last.

  17. Tintarella di Luna says:

    Well Done Doctor/Professor – the ABC appears to be most indignant and the more indignation the more unsubstantiated BS and poorly written at that.

  18. WX says:

    The argument might be made that the ABC patronises and looks down upon its audience. That they are insincere and elitist.
    Think about this for a moment.

  19. notafan says:

    If the ABC are so darn popular they’ll be delighted to go to a subscription service.

  20. gavalanche says:

    kudos sinclair
    keep defending reality – a strange but essential task in today’s looking glass world

  21. Crossie says:

    With the exception of infants and very young children (aged 0 – 4) there is simply no majority of Australians reliant on the ABC.

    They have done to children’s programming what they do to all other shows, undercut them financially thus pricing them out of existence. No other channels can afford children’s programs since for the ABC money is no object. Voila! Monopoly!

  22. Syd Gal says:

    I was surprised to see that statement because I think the author, Head ABC Head of Communications, is married to L Milligan. I see Sally Jackson wrote the response regarding ABC coverage of Cardinal Pell last year: https://about.abc.net.au/statements/the-abcs-reporting-on-cardinal-george-pell/

  23. Syd Gal says:

    #3729175, posted on January 18, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    Re the ABC 2020 statement, S Jackson was the media contact. Response was by ABC Editorial Director Craig McMurtrie.

  24. Tel says:

    putting out rubbish like this is an insult to everyone’s intelligence.

    How bad would you feel if you also had to pay for it?

  25. Tel says:

    The argument might be made that the ABC patronises and looks down upon its audience. That they are insincere and elitist.

    As others have already pointed out, their main target demographic is 4 year olds.

  26. WX says:

    I understand that Tel, but my suggestion – naive as it reads – had a specific purpose. I believe that ‘groundwork’ needs to be done before anything is attempted on this issue, as I’ve stated previously. Being a public forum, I’m not keen on giving any opponents an undeserved opportunity.

  27. Tel says:

    They have done to children’s programming what they do to all other shows, undercut them financially thus pricing them out of existence.

    Don’t underestimate the whif of advertising revenue and the incentive to make a show more interesting than the next guy. Ryan’s Toy Review is pulling in tens of millions per year as a YouTube star. Their shows are made with no studio and very minimal equipment.

  28. C.L. says:

    The ABC brings a butter knife to an Uzi fight.

    There are only 4 networks. That means that #3 is really second last.

    Ahahahahahahahaha.

  29. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    His 15 January piece “The ABC no longer has a purpose” displays a lack of understanding of the critical role of public broadcasters such as the ABC in the modern media age.

    Giggle my arse off!
    Sell it, or turn it into a subscription service.
    Why should taxpayers have to fund this kolkhoz vanity project?

  30. H B Bear says:

    I don’t need the ALPBC to insult my intelligence. I know plenty of people who will do it for free,

  31. thefrollickingmole says:

    ABC is shit

    By: arky

  32. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare says:

    Expertly fielded, Professor Davidson.

    The ABC don’t make a statistician’s bootlace. It is they who are ‘blatantly wrong’.
    You’ll never get them to admit that though, Mr. Davidson. 🙂

  33. miltonf says:

    basket case of inaccuracies

    Sloppy diction but sounds like Clinton.

  34. Neil says:

    Artificially boosted by the ABCs status as an emergency broadcaster, broadcasting both the bushfire crisis

    I was visiting relatives who were surrounded by bushfires last Christmas (2019). WE got our information from the Rural Fire Service website on the computer. Did not watch the ABC once.

  35. Buccaneer says:

    Around about the age of 4, children start to exercise choice over the content they watch

  36. Squirrel says:

    The fact that the ABC has responded so quickly (by their standards, particularly at this time of year when people who count tend to be on hols) shows that they’re rattled – as does the attempted smear in line four (reference to IPA) and the mischievously out of context quote from Richard Alston.

    There may, of course, be some oh-so-clever people in and around the federal government who, aside from having a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome with the ABC, are more focused on the death of broadcast television and the sexy, lucrative things which can be done with the freed-up spectrum.

    The recent de-platforming of the US President by the US internet giants who (parochial fantasies aside) would doubtless dominate a post-TV media world in Australia, should give serious pause for cause on the part of current and prospective centre-right politicians who might hope to pursue policies which may not always be to the taste of the US tech elites and their local fellow travellers – of which the ABC is foremost.

  37. TBH says:

    Bahaha, right over the target Professor Davidson.

  38. Fang says:

    If you ever want to give your “Private business owner boss ” the 5hits, first thing in the morning! Leave the work ute radio on ABC, and a a fairly loud volume!
    Makes for very funny 5hits & giggles! 🙂 (but it does make him grumpy till morning smok’o) 😁

  39. Kim Howard says:

    So most of the ABC audience are aged between 0-4 0-12 and the other 3% are older but their brain age I assume is in the same 0-12

  40. Colin Suttie says:

    You know you’ve hit a nerve when their only defence is point-and-sputter

  41. The Barking Toad says:

    I don’t listen or watch their ABC
    It is shit

  42. Rob says:

    Unlike other outlets, the ABC has the unequalled ability to reach all Australians.
    The ABC’s coverage of current affairs, politics, and even news, favours the left.
    Programs like Q & A, Insiders, and 7.30, lean strongly to the left.
    If 50% of Australians vote left and 50% vote right, the surveys can only be indicating the ABC’s actual audience is predominantly from those on the left.
    An independent complaints panel would easily test the above contention.

  43. Des Deskperson says:

    On Friday 15 January at 8.00 pm ABC TV screened an episode of the UK detective drama, Vera.

    The episode was made in 2014, nearly seven years ago.

    The best it can do in prime viewing time? Lazy and contemptuous.

  44. David Brewer says:

    Groan.

    1. A basket case is someone – a medical case – who needs to be carried off in a basket. It’s a case, not a basket, and therefore cannot be a container for inaccuracies, or anything else.

    2. The fact that x per cent of Australians – in most cases a distinct minority – listen to or watch one or other of the ABC’s myriad radio and TV stations does not prove anything about whether the ABC should be receiving $1 billion a year from the taxpayer. In fact, if the figures prove it’s popular, and needed, then surely it must be able to raise $1 billion a year itself from its grateful consumers.

    3. It’s headed “ABC response to Sinclair Davidson in the Australian Financial Review”. But who exactly is responding? The Chairman? The Managing Director? The “media contact” listed? And by what right is the author presuming to attack a citizen-taxpayer’s view of what ought to be done with the ABC?

  45. Chris says:

    I use every ABC-related article at The Australian to point out that:
    – The ABC costs every Australian household about $280 per year.
    – Only one household in four consumes the ABC er, output.
    That means that each ABC-watching household gets almost $1200 of taxpayers money spent, to reinforce their snobbery that other households are bogans, racists and not good people.

    They get almost $1200 of taxpayers money spent, which is also used to tell other countries and cultures that we are violent and racist against them. Go to India or Malaysia and see what Australian media inform their views of us.

    The ABC spend $1200 of tax money per listener to destroy people’s livings. The farmers, sheep and cattle; the horse racing and greyhounds; the long-distance truckies, the fishermen. The justice system.

    They spend $1200 per listener to create stupid, industry-destroying energy market dynamics, for their pretend solutions to pretend problems at huge cost of ordinary and poor people.

    They spend $1200 per listener to falsely accuse a Christian of pdf filer – and when they are proved wrong in court they pretend their false accusations are still true.

  46. Nob says:

    Only one household in four consumes the ABC er, output.

    At most, and only on those days when windpower provides more than 50% of the electricity demand.

  47. roman says:

    I stopped reading as soon as the ABC informed me you are blatantly wrong. I’m glad they clarified that for me. Now I’m better informed, and a better person for it. When will you stop being a NAZI?

  48. Nighthawk the Elder says:

    If the ABC is such high value to Australians, why do they fear funding by subscription? Why do they fear investor ownership? Surely there must be enough like minded individuals or institutions who would willingly invest or who would willingly subscribe to their services.

    Why does it still need public ownership? Surely this is not unlike the Australian republic debate they actively promote that after 80 years, the ABC has grown up and should cut the umbilical cord from mother government and determine its own way in the world.

  49. northshore redneck says:

    Aren’t there 5 networks, not 4 as suggested?

    7, 9, 10, Sbs, Abc…

  50. MACK says:

    Those numbers are only boosted because of The Virus. They’ll continue to drift downwards from now on, as everyone under 35 spends all their time with Netflix and Spotify. Their news website is free and people will continue to read the headlines there for that reason alone.

  51. entropy says:

    Only one household in four consumes the ABC er, output

    i don’t get why people forget SBS and it always slips under the ABC behemoth.

    In the world of the internet, cable and satellite services and streamers there is no longer any purpose to SBS. The potential audience has no need for a middleman, they can and do go straight to the source.

    But if you add up all the FTA channels that are public television, you will find they are about half the total number of channels. That is crowding out big time.

  52. TPL001 says:

    Good work, Professor Doctor Sinclair. My two penneth would be better in my pocket than in the pockets of those who work for the ABC. The first step is to do to the ABC what was done to SBS – make it pay its way via advertising. Then disconnect it from the public teat. If those who support the ABC really believed in its viability, then it should operate in a competitive market. Again, it should exist and operate without public funds. The other stations have to compete for air time in a fractured media market, so why not the ABC? And those stations have to churn out a variety of material from drivel to useful.

  53. Lee says:

    The ABC is long past redemption.
    Shut it down.
    Now!

  54. John A says:

    Rob #3729326, posted on January 18, 2021, at 11:36 pm.

    Unlike other outlets, the ABC has the unequalled ability to reach all Australians.

    And yet, it cannot actually draw more than about 10% as an audience – such a waste!

  55. Tom Atkinson says:

    “A basket case of inaccuracies”. LOL. That’s a new one.

    They obviously wanted to call Sinc a “basket case” but couldn’t find a way to do it.

  56. List of top shows on the ABC.

    Bluey

  57. Forester says:

    What Chris said @ 12:10am

    He left out that the incandescent rage it induces in non-socialist voters is free campaigning for the Liberal party.

    I heard a commentator once said you don’t listen to their ABC, you ‘monitor’ it.

  58. Mike Ryan says:

    That’s Doctor Davidson – but I suppose this is representative of the care and attention the ABC displays to the discovery and presentation of facts.

    #theirABC

  59. Mike Ryan says:

    If Australia wants to get serious about reforming the putrid, ABC, we need contemporary data – preferably an organisation without any skin in the game or innate bias.
    It must be fair to gauge public sentiment.
    Their ABC NEVER tell you how many of their audience listen and watch the broadcaster ONLY because they are commercial free (well – willing to accept ABC promo’s at least).

    Hardly a ringing endorsement;

    you’re less worse because of commercial sponsorship.

  60. Mike Ryan says:

    We need a national poll – independent.
    The IPA could do it but claims of bias would be out and proud.

  61. ChrisM says:

    Perhaps there should be a tick-a-box section at the end of every tax return for tax payers to nominate where they would like their tax-dollars spent (health, education, defense, infrastructure, ABC, etc…), and then let the public decide how much funding the ABC deserves. (After all, it is OUR ABC…)
    The politicians can then wash their hands of any outcome – it was the public that chose.
    The ‘self-advertising’ departments at Southbank/Ultimo would have to work overtime to fit their howling protests into the ‘Your ABC’ narrative…

  62. Oscr says:

    Falling over themselves though to refer to ‘Dr’ Jill.

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