I’ve got a story in the Crikey email today about an unusual event. A Herald Sun journalist, for reasons that are obscure, lodged a Freedom of Information request with the ABC for all correspondence between me, the Crikey team, and Managing Director Mark Scott and his media team. Under FoI, we were consulted about the release, and decided to do it pre-emptively.

So here it is in all its crushing tedium, the great email expose. See Crikey for my commentary.

FROM Sandy Culkoff

TO Margaret Simons

14 January 2008

Subject: Coalition election promises

Coalition promised funding for the ABC to extend its regional radio and online services in:

Hervey Bay

Armidale

Warrnambool

I’m trying to dig out the original releases to find out the specific promises, bare with me, I’ll send them through.

Cheers,

Sandy

FROM Sandy Culkoff

TO Margaret Simons

14 January 2008

Subject: ABC coalition promises

Hi Meg,

I’m still looking for the original releases for Hervey Bay and Warrnambool, but I’m almost positive they were along similar lines as the Armidale release..

There were also some transmission promises for Flinders Is and Devonport.

Cheers,

Sandy

(Attachments included a 2 November 2007 Media Release from Mark Vaile, deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nationals, and clippings from local papers reporting coalition promises regarding regional radio for Devenport, Flinders Island and Hervey Bay)

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

11 March 2008

Subject: Tomorrow

Hi Meg,

Are you around for a chat with Mark at around 9am tomorrow morning?

Cheers,

Sandy

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

11 March 2008

Subject: ABC Media Release: ABC 2008: The Digital Future Now

Terrific, thanks Meg. I’ll make sure he calls on the mobile. Attached is a release and reel which will give you a sense of what we’re doing today. Cheers, Sandy

12 March 2008

ABC 2008: The Digital Future Now

Please find attached a media release outlining ABC Managing Director Mark Scott’s announcement today of four new services the ABC will be offering audiences this year.

You can also click and see a short show reel that will give you a sense of what each of these services look like and how they work. http://www.feralhammo.net.au/Downloads/abc_digitalfuturenow.mov

(Attachment: Media Release Digital Future Now, dated 12 March 2008)

FROM Sandy Culkoff

TO Margaret Simons

12 March 2008

Subject: : ABC Media Release: ABC 2008: The Digital Future Now

Meg, slightly updated release attached. Only change is that the ABC Shop Downloads site will go live on Tuesday 18 March 2008…Mark’s not far…

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

12 March 2008

Subject Media Release and reel

Meg, let me know if the emails have come through ok..

Cheers,

Sandy

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

12 March 2008

Subject Media Release and reel

HI Sandy, sorry for not getting back to you to confirm that I got the stuff.

The truth was I wasn’t planning to file for Crikey until I got your e-mail early in the day, and had a morning booked doing other stuff. I ended up reading the media release on my Blackberry, and doing my best to file using someone else’s e-mail. Quite a flurry. Thanks to you and Mark for giving me the chance to do it while it was fresh, though. Cheers Meg

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

12 March 2008

Subject Media Release and reel

Thanks Meg, really appreciated it, the story was great. (I know the early morning call wasn’t ideal!) Cheers, Sandy

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

27 March 2008

Subject: Mark

Hi Meg,

Just left a VM for you. Sorry it was all a bit late for deadline today.

Mark keen to brief you on the story this afternoon for tomorrow, let me know if you’re free.

Cheers,

Sandy

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

4 April 2008

Subject: Also…

Forgot to mention, you’re on the right track with Garrett, but you also didn’t hear that from us…its been difficult to get in…

From Sandy Culkoff

TO Margaret Simons

7 April 2008

Subject: If you’re interested…..

Hi Meg,

I’ve had this on my “to do” list for a couple of weeks…

During the ABC leadership conference last month, Mark made an announcement that didn’t get a run at the time, but I flagged it as something you may be interested in exploring during a quieter week…

He announced a Review of Self-regulation to take place this year, headed by Maurice Newman and assisted by Paul Chadwick to essentially look into all of the ABC’s self-regulation systems and structures with fresh eyes and to see if it’s a system that best serves our audiences…

Let me know if its something you’d like to follow up, I can arrange a conversation with Mark for you…

Cheers,

Sandy

From Margaret Simons

TO Sandy Culkoff

7 April 2008

Subject: If you’re interested…..

Hi Sandy,

How timely you are….

Yes, I am interested. This week is a bit crammed for me, but if Mark wants to talk about this, I am available tomorrow and Friday.

I was going to e-mail you on another matter. Wearing my non-Crikey hat, I am presently working with Malcolm Fraser on his memoirs. Today I heard a great anecdote about how Molly Meldrum managed to persuade him to come on Countdown while he was PM. I don’t know the date, unfortunately. How hard would it be to find the date, and the footage? I would be prepared to pay for a copy of it, if it is findable and available. Apparently it is priceless.

Cheers Meg

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

Subject: Countdown Footage

7 April 2008

Great…I’ll see if I can get him to call you tomorrow, any particular time?

Brilliant little story…let me see what I can do for you…

Cheers,

Sandy

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

8 April 2008

Subject: Countdown Footage

Hi Meg,

No problem with the footage, see below for how to order and purchase it …Cheers, Sandy

P.S Has Mark phoned through yet, he said he would today.

—–Original Message—–

From: Karla Taylor

Sent: Tuesday, 8 April 2008 1:41 PM

To: Sandy Culkoff

Cc: Meredith Mitchell

Subject: RE: COUNTDOWN FOOTAGE

Hi Sandy,

I’ve just looked this one up and I don’t see any copyright restrictions in us supplying it to her as a dvd for research purposes.  The cost would be $88.  Delivery time takes approximately 15 working days.  If she needs it urgently we can prioritise it and express post it to her for an extra charge of $16.50.

Here are the details:

Accession No: 212797

Date of Broadcast: 27/2/1983

Countdown, Show 359

Here is a shot list description:

THIS SHOW (FIRST FOR 1983) HOSTED BY JAMES REYNE AND

CO-HOSTED BY MOLLY. MOLLY PRESENTS THREE SPECIAL

SEGMENTS. FIRST CALLED ‘OUT OF WORK’ MOLLY IV YOUNG

PEOPLE WHO ARE LOOKING FOR WORK AND OBTAINS COMMENTS,

SECOND CALLED ‘MOLLY ASKS BOB HAWKE’ MOLLY IV BOB HAWKE

RE UNEMPLOYMENT & YOUTH PROBLEMS & WHAT HE PROPOSES TO

DO ABOUT THEM AND MR HAWKE RESPONDS AND STATES THERE IS

NO IMMEDIATE SOLUTION BUT HE UNDERSTANDS THE PROBLEMS

AND HIS COMMITTMENT IS THERE (JOB GENERATION PROG’S,

COMMUNITY YOUTH SUPPORT SCHEMES, INC BENEFITS & INC

RENT ASSISTANCE), THIRD CALLED ‘AND NOW THE PM’ MOLLY

IV THE PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM FRASER RE THE SAME

PROBLEMS AS MENTIONED BEFORE AND WHAT HE PROPOSES TO DO

ABOUT THEM FRASER STATES THAT HE WOULD RECTIFY THE

SITUATION BY A NUMBER OF MEASURES (USING MONEY FROM THE

WAGE PAUSE HE WOULD ESTABLISH SPECIAL YOUTH PROJECT IN

THE CITY & BUSH, AND VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE AT SCHOOLS AS

TOO MANY CHILDREN ARE LEAVING SCHOOL EARLY & NEED FOR

BETTER CURRICULA) PROMISED THAT THESE CHANGES COULD NOT

BE MADE IN 6 TO 12 MONTHS.

If she’d like to order it please give us a call on … with her credit card details.  Cheque or money order is fine as well.  We only accept purchase orders from educational institutions.

Best Regards,

Karinn

From Margaret Simons

To Mark Scott

Subject: Gerard Henderson

14 April 2008

Dear Mark,

Thought you should know about this. Gerard Henderson rang me last Friday to ask about our interview that led to the story published in Crikey about the complaints process review. He wanted to know whether I had rung you, or you me.

I told him that ABC PR had asked me if I would be interested in a story about the complaints process review, and that I had replied that I would. I told him that you had then rung me. I also emphasised that your comments about him were in reply to questions posed by me, rather than being volunteered by you.

I did not, of course, tell him anything about the off the record parts of our conversation.

I don’t know what he plans to do with all this, but I am sure it will be something. At the very least, I gather he plans to write to you.

Cheers

Margaret

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

17 April 2008

Subject ABC MEDIA RELEASE: THE ABC TOWARDS 2020

ABC MEDIA RELEASE

April 17, 2008

THE ABC TOWARDS 2020

In the lead up to the Australia 2020 Summit this weekend, the ABC has unveiled its own vision of public broadcasting in 2020.

ABC Managing Director Mark Scott, who will be attending the Summit, along with a number of ABC personalities, said the ideas paper “The ABC in the Digital Age – Towards 2020” was aimed at prompting debate and discussion around the vital role of public broadcasting in the digital media age.

“The ABC, with its 75 year history of providing reliable news and information, and quality Australian programming to Australian audiences, is uniquely placed to deliver more content on more platforms in the digital age,” Mr Scott said.

“As audiences fragment, and choices multiply, Australians will be looking towards the trusted ABC brand to continue to deliver reliable, quality Australian content.

“This paper outlines the continuing relevance and importance of the ABC in the changing media world, and ways in which the ABC can deliver more.

“However it is very much an ideas paper, designed to stimulate discussion, not a funding pitch.

“When we look to 2020, in a media world with almost limitless choice of content, we see the potential for the ABC to be delivering much more.”

Please find the ABC’s ideas paper “The ABC in the Digital Age – Towards 2020” attached.

Media contact:

Sandy Culkoff

Head Corporate Communications

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

2 May 2008

Subject: Paul Chadwick

Hi Meg,

They are live streaming from the news homepage http://abc.net.au/news/ from 11am today and then again for the afternoon sessions. They are lives streams only at this stage and unfortunately not available as video on demand downloads, so nothing from yesterday will be available..

For Paul’s material, you need to go to –

http://www.abc.net.au/corp/pubs/edpols.htm

These are the two latest reports

Quality Assurance Project 2: Accuracy (April 2008) Quality Assurance Project 1: Verification of Corrective Actions (April 2008)

S

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

2 May 2008

Subject: Paul Chadwick

Thanks Sandy.

Can we put in a request that downloads be made available? If they are we will mention and link to them, if that helps. (Or perhaps it hinders??)

And if they are made available, in any form, can you please let us know?

Cheers Meg

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

2 May 2008

Subject: Paul Chadwick

Just found out News will make downloads available next week…

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

5 May 2008

Subject: Paul Chadwick

Hi Sandy, do you know if those downloads of the future of journalism conference are available yet? I have had a request for them from Jay Rosen in the USA, and would like the link for my own purposes too! Cheers Meg

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

5 May 2008

Subject: Paul Chadwick

Let me check for you..

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

6 May 2008

Subject: Paul Chadwick

Apparently these will be up at the end of the week Meg..

From Margaret Simons

TO Sandy Culkoff

CC Mark Scott

6 May 2008

Subject: idea: Crikey reviews the charter

Dear Sandy,

Crikey and I are thinking about doing a series of pieces sometime in the next month reviewing the ABC Charter and asking how, and how well, the organisation is meeting its objectives.

Planning is in very preliminary stages and we are still throwing ideas around,  but tentatively we are thinking of three or four pieces focussing on different parts of the charter, and engaging different voices of both ABC supporters and critics. Then we would invite public comment through our media forum.

The general context for this would be the triennial funding submission, but some other issues that we have been discussing are:

To what extent and how should the ABC promote itself (the Logies controversy)

Accountability and independence (Paul Chadwick’s work)

The definition of Broadcasting in the ABC Act (rules out point to point services). How does this fit in with the new media age?

Future of Journalism conference and future of journalism debates more generally. Does the ABC make us different to the USA and Europe?

The balance between “broadcasting programs of wide appeal and specialized broadcasting programs”. How does this relate to the more popular content? What justification is there, in the era of media plenty, for the ABC to provide content of a kind freely available elsewhere?

The role of Radio Australia and the ABC’s international presence in the new media age.

The obligation of the ABC to take account of “the broadcasting services provided by the commercial and public sectors of the Australian broadcasting system”, and how this relates to projects like the 24 hour newsroom.

As I say, we are still chewing this over at present, but if we go ahead I was wondering if I could have a face-to-face interview with Mark and/or Maurice Newman on this.

I plan to be in Sydney for a couple of days in the next month or so – can let you know dates. Or if Mark is in Melbourne at all perhaps you could slot me in.

In the meantime I am buried in the Corporate Plan, for my sins.

Your comments are invited.

Cheers Meg

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

6 May 2008

Subject: idea: Crikey reviews the charter

First thoughts…good idea! I wont get a chance to talk to Mark for a couple of days – Board meeting this week – can we touch base on this early next week…S

From Margaret Simons

TO Sandy Culkoff

18 June 2008

Subject: around?

Hi Sandy, are you around? I have left a couple of messages for you in the last couple of days, but no response. I am hoping that if you are on hols the bounceback from this will let me know. Cheers Margaret

From Mark Scott

To Margaret Simons

16 June 2008

Subject: The Atlantic July/August 2008 Mr Murdoch Goes to War Mark Bowden

This article from The Atlantic Online has been sent to you by:
[email protected]

Message:
Interesting piece, if you haven’t seen it.M

Click here to access the article.

From Margaret Simons

To Mark Scott

16 June 2008

Subject: The Atlantic July/August 2008 Mr Murdoch Goes to War Mark Bowden

Hi Mark, Thanks for that. Interesting indeed. Great take on the “religion of journalism” and Murdoch’s attitude to it. I wonder how his ambitions for print sit with the stuff in his speech to the American Association of Newspaper editors a few years ago.

Cheers Meg

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

18 June 2008

Meg, sorry we must have missed each other today, I left a message on your landline but not the mob. I’ve been away ill the last 2 days…

Mark’s been in Canberra today doing the usual rounds so haven’t had a chance to raise this with him again. Last time we spoke he was happy to go on background only, the thinking was that it probably a little early to be talking publicly while we’re right in the midst of putting the funding submission together.

Should we chat tomorrow when I’ve had time to talk to Mark again?

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

18 June 2008

Yes please. I am teaching 9-5 tomorrow, but should be able to return calls in the breaks. Obviously I would prefer an on the record interview with Mark, but I’ll take what I can get. Perhaps we could talk on the basis that it is background, but I might ask for permission to use specific bits or quotes once we are dealing with a known quantity. I’d like to do this early next week, ideally. Hope you are feeling better now. Cheers Meg

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

23 June 2008

Hi Meg, I only got to Mark late on Friday, he’s absolutely flat chat at the moment, he’s in Darwin for the next 2 days speaking at the ABC North Australia Forum, then Board meetings this week and not back in the office till Friday. This week just isn’t going to happen…not sure if we can put this off for a couple of weeks?

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

CC Mark Scott

Subject: Public service inquiry into public broadcasting

25 June 2008

Dear Sandy,

I have heard that the minister is about to announce a public service enquiry into public broadcasting.  I am confident enough about this story to be planning to write it tomorrow, that is Thursday.  It is very late at night at the moment, so I’m doing you the courtesy of not trying to ring you, but I will try to get hold of you and/or Mark tomorrow first thing.

In case this e-mail reaches you before I do, I have the following questions:

Is the ABC pleased about this enquiry?

What will be its terms of reference?

Who will conduct it?

When is it expected to report?

Will the report be made public?

How does the enquiry fit with the triennial funding round?

Any other comment is obviously welcome.

I am still hoping to talk to Mark sometime soon about the ABC in the broad.  Do you have any idea yet when this might be possible and on what terms?

Thanks for your help.  Cheers Meg

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

Subject: phone

25 June 2008

Sorry Sandy, I should have said that I am on the mobile

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

27 June 2008

Dear Sandy, I was wondering if you could tell me what is the “due date” for the triennial funding submission? That is, what day does it have to be on the Minister’s desk? Is it November?

Second, I have some other questions, on another matter  but they are non-urgent. Sometime next week will do fine, if that’s ok

  1. How much does the ABC pay Broadcasting Australia in transmission costs? And if there is any breakdown on this, I would be interested in the detail. (I have looked at the annual financial reports, but am not sure the figures I am looking at are what I should be looking at, if you know what I mean. It isn’t very clear and I am no accountant).
  2. When were the transmission contracts with Broadcasting Australia that are presently in force negotiated? What is the term of the contracts? Is there an option to renew clause?
  3. Was there a tender process associated with these contracts?

Cheers Meg

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

27 June 2008

Hi Meg, I don’t have an exact date but I believe its sometime in Sept. Let’s talk next week on the questions…

Cheers
Sandy

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

3 July 2008

Hi Meg,

The pieces have been good this week with getting the debate going. Still no word from Conroy on the enquiry.

Just wanted to let you know that I’m going on leave as of tomorrow, from 5pm actually. Not that I’m counting down the hours!

Kevin McAlinden will be my replacement while I’m away. In his usual role, he deals with the public relations around our transmission issues and manages the audience and consumer affairs unit.

Kevin McAlinden

Acting Head Corporate Communications

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

[email protected]

To make your life easier, I’d talk to Lesna Thomas (04******) on TV issues, Jane Wilson (0********) for News, Warwick Tiernan (04** *****) for Radio and contact Kevin on the corporate issues and when you need to talk to Mark.

I’ll be in the office all day tomorrow if we need to talk.

Cheers

Sandy

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

3 July 2008

Thanks for letting me know sandy and have a good break. Meantime, any word on those questions about transmission costs? Cheers meg

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

3 July 2008

Sorry Meg, must have slipped through the cracks.

The total funding appropriated for transmission in the 2007/08 year was $165.2m. This included both analog TV and Radio and digital TV transmission costs.  Its on page 63 of the Annual Report – Its made up of $87.3m for analog transmission and $77.9m for digital transmission.

The terms and conditions of the various contracts I would say are commercial in confidence and can’t be released, the contracts are long term and span a variety of services.

Cheers

Sandy

From Margaret Simons

TO Sandy Culkoff

3 July 2008

Thanks sandy.

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

4 July 2008

Meg, also just a heads up…something for next week, its likely the ABC Shop Downloads will be officially launched by Lynley Marshall. Could be a good one, Lynley will be happy to talk on the importance of the shop downloads as a broader strategy to open up new revenues for the ABC in this emerging space…there’s going to be a catalogue of over 250 hours available to buy and rent…might make a nice jumping off point for a story on ABC Commercial…

I’ll make sure you get a call from Damien Eames who is looking after it…

Cheers

Sandy

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff, Mark Scott, Kim Dalton, Lesna Thomas

23 July 2008

Dear All,

This is just to let you know that I will be taking a break from writing for Crikey from the end of this week until at least the end of the year. This is because I have a book to finish, and need a period of concentrated attention.

I may still write the occasional piece, but will largely be leaving you all alone, for which you will, perhaps, be grateful.

All the best in the meantime, and as they say in the classics, I’ll be back.

Cheers Margaret Simons

From Mark Scott

To Margaret Simons

Subject: Break From Crikey

23 July 2008

Paul Chadwick tells me we should all be encouraging you to write more fiction.

What’s the book?

M

From Margaret Simons

To Mark Scott

Subject: Break from Crikey

23 July 2008

Hi Mark,

The book is not fiction. I am collaborating with Malcolm Fraser on a book that will be a cross between biography and memoir. I’ve been doing the research for the last year, but now need to do the writing, and I just can’t get to grips with it while tied to the news cycle and with half my head in media.

I would dearly like to return to fiction, but it doesn’t pay, and I have children to raise. When they are older, perhaps. In the meantime I am certainly not complaining about the work I get to do. Fraser is a fascinating project and a great gig, but the hard part is all ahead!

Good luck with the triennial funding stuff and all the other challenges I won’t be around to cover. I will be watching, though!

Cheers Meg

From Margaret Simons

To (multiple recipients, including Mark Scott)

Subject: changed email address

30 August 2008

Dear friends and colleagues,

Please note that I have changed my e-mail address. The old one will work for a while, but the new and preferred one is [email protected]

Cheers,

Margaret Simons

From Mark Scott

To Margaret Simons

Subject: changed email address

30 August 2008

Looks to me like the start of the Margaret Simons brand/industry/empire.

I’m sorry you’re not writing at the moment on the industry….remarkable times

Trust all is well with you

M

From Margaret Simons

To Mark Scott

Subject: changed email address

31 August 2008

Thanks Mark. Not so much the start of empire as the end of a troubled relationship with Telstra. Three hours in the call centre queue finally broke my tolerance.

It has taken an effort to keep silent on media over the last week, but I know that once I started the truth is it would become a full time job for a while, and I can’t afford to do that. So I am trying to keep my mind on Malcolm Fraser and the 1950s…. Petrov, the Split and all that. Fascinating stuff.

Interesting developments at the ABC.

We should have lunch sometime and chat, particularly since I am on sabbatical.

Cheers Margaret

FROM Sophie Black

TO Mark Scott

10 September 2008

Hi Mark,

Further to the story we ran on Monday re plans for ABC mobile content to carry advertising (http://www.crikey.com.au/Media-Arts-and-Sports/20080908-ABC-advertising.html ), Crikey has discovered that in fact the ABC has been carrying ads on mobile content for Telstra Bigpond for at least 12 months, if not more.

We accessed this content both online and on our mobile phones – and discovered banner ads for New Zealand tourism, Pioneer Car stereos, ring tones, etc.

Crikey is seeking a comment about this for a story we intend to publish in today’s edition:

Are these ads currently in breach of the ABC editorial guidelines and charter?

How long have these ads been available on ABC mobile content?

How much revenue is generated from these ads, and where does it go?

Is this an exclusive deal with Telstra bigpond?

Is this content linked off the Telstra homepage?

Who sells and services the ads?

Who were these ads approved by?

If you could please get back to me by our publication deadline of 12 that’d be great.

Kind Regards,

sophie black| deputy editor

FROM Jonathan Green

TO Sandy Culkoff

15 October 2008

Sandy, hi.

I wonder if there is any official response to the opening remarks from this morning’s religion report on RN?

jonathan green|editor

FROM Sandy Culkoff

TO Jonathan Green

15 October 2008

Hi Jonathan – just got your message – I’m chasing something now…

Be in touch..

Cheers

Sandy

FROM Sandy Culkoff

TO Jonathan Green

15 October 2008

Jonathan,

Response for you..

“A number of line-up changes are planned for ABC Radio National next year, these are currently being finalised and will be announced shortly. They do include a number of programs being moved, changed or ended.

“These changes are in part a response to the move in ABC Radio National’s audience growth, particularly online. This necessitates a shift in resources – in some cases from on air to online. There will be no job losses.

“Stephen’s comments were made independently without the knowledge or approval of network management. The matter is under review.

“Stephen Crittenden is a respected broadcaster with whom discussions have taken place regarding the schedule changes, and as with any other staff affected, future opportunities with the network are being discussed,” an ABC spokeswoman said today.
Also, the Religion Report is a live program featuring pre-recorded elements.

From Margaret Simons

TO Mark Scott

Subject: Fitzgerald legacy

24 October 2008

Hi Mark,

Hope you don’t mind me writing to you about this, but there is an initiative I have become aware of that it seems to me you should know about.

It is being run out of Griffith University, and is a series of initiatives aimed at marking, celebrating and continuing the legacy of the Fitzgerald Inquiry.

It strikes me that the ABC should be involved. The ABC has everything to be proud of in the Fitzgerald context. You screened the program that sparked the inquiry, it was ABC legal counsel who helped ensure the right issues were examined during the inquiry, and the local 7.30 Report pioneered the use of re-enactments of evidence, which I am personally sure helped to safeguard the inquiry from political attack and closure.

You may not know this, but I reported on the inquiry for The Age, and later worked for Fitzgerald briefly helping him write his final report, which was  a systemic examination of a democracy gone wrong, with recommendations of relevance to police, politics and media. Julianne Schultz wrote really well in the last Griffith Review about the Fitzgerald legacy being the thing that formed many of the people now at the centre of federal politics, including Rudd, Glyn Davis, Quentin Bryce, Swan, etc etc.

The current initiative is aimed at a series of events, including scholarships and lectures on issues of governance and the media, and a major public exhibition, to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of the Report next year.

I have long thought that the recommendations and insights on media are the most unfulfilled part of the Fitzgerald vision, so I am interested in being involved in this new initiative. Obviously, the fact that everything else in media is changing also makes this stuff ripe for examination and reinvigoration.

Tony Fitzgerald himself is involved with Griffith in this project, and so are many other luminaries.

What, if anything, you want to do with this is up to you of course, but it seems to me to be a natural for a documentary to mark the anniversary of the inquiry. Lots of material is being gathered to do with the social history surrounding the inquiry and its aftermath. And my personal view is that the future of journalism should be part of what is being discussed.

I met the woman organising all this, Jenny Wilson, in Melbourne recently. I think the ABC absolutely should be talking to her.

Her contact details are:

Jenny Wilson

Strategic Development Manager

Strategic Research Program for Social Change and Wellbeing

Secretary, Griffith University-Tony Fitzgerald Lecture and Scholarship

Program,

Griffith University, Mount Gravatt campus

Queensland 4111

Web: www.griffith.edu.au/social-change

Email [email protected]

Hope you are able to pass this on to someone who can act on it, and that it yields fruitful things, and let me know if I can help!

Cheers Meg Simons

From Margaret Simons

To: multiple recipients

24 November 2008

Subject: I’m baaaaack

Dear All,

Just to let you know that I have today resumed writing for Crikey on media again, after a break of some months. I’ll be appearing a couple of times a week on average.

Soon, I will also be launching a blog on media, run off the Crikey site. I’ll let you know details when it happens.

In the meantime, please do feel free to keep in touch.

Yours, Margaret Simons

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

2 December 2008

Dear Sandy,

I am thinking of putting in an FoI request, but thought before I did so I should check with you whether the information I am after is, or could be made, available without all the legal palaver.

What I would like is:

Podcast figures for Radio National programs over the last 12 months, broken down by program

And

“Real time” audience figures for Radio National programs, again broken down by program.

If this info is already available somewhere, could you point me to it? Or if you are willing to make it available, that would be great.

Otherwise, I will proceed with an FoI.

Give me a ring if you want to discuss.

Cheers Margaret

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

2 December 2008

Meg,

Just on this – what’s the angle your taking for the story, and I assume it’s for Crikey?

S

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

2 December 2008

Hi Sandy,

Yes, its for Crikey. The angle depends on the data!

Questions I am asking are whether the gain in audience through podcasting is across the board, or only particular programs, whether the timeslot something is broadcast in remains important, or whether all that matters now is the ability to access the content, and (of course) the podcast and audience figures for the recently cut programs, in this context.

I don’t have fixed views on any of this, and am prepared to listen as always.

Cheers Meg

From Sandy Culkoff

TO Margaret Simons

4 December 2008

Meg, I’m out of the office today, but wanted to let you know I’m still chasing this, it may take a few more days…

Cheers, S

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

9 December 2008

Hi Meg,

Don’t know if you’re doing anything on the A-Span announcement for crikey today – but just in case, thought I’d throw a few things to you on background –

The public affairs channel was an idea the ABC brought to the 2020 summit, flagged prior by Mark in our 2020 ideas paper and detailed in his Sept press club address:

http://abc.net.au/corp/pubs/documents/2020_ABC_in_the_Digital_Age.pdf

From the speech –

“We want to be able to create a service – online and on television – that allows citizens to watch for themselves key democratic processes and public events: unmediated, unfiltered.

“I include in that category Parliament from Canberra and the State chambers; press conferences and Parliamentary hearings; major fora like the annual ABARE conference; key annual general meetings; public addresses at places like the Lowy Institute, the Melbourne Press Club or the Centre for Independent Studies.

“Given the level of investment in the ABC, we could do it better and for less additional money than anyone else in the country. A public affairs channel would be reinforced by the ABC’s outstanding news and current affairs service, allowing updates around the clock and the ability to go live on major breaking news events. Again, this is something that should be available free in every Australian home – access to our democracy in action.

http://abc.net.au/corp/pubs/documents/mark_scott_npc_address_10.09.08.pdf

I suppose the point is we’d welcome more public affairs television – which is why we developed the proposal for the 2020 summit. But the proposal developed by the ABC is different in that we are looking at propositions that would be available free of charge into every Australian home – not just the 25% who have pay TV.

According to published results, at 30 June 2008, AUSTAR had 695,000 subscribers, of which 587,000 were residential, and FOXTEL had 1.54 million direct and wholesale subscribers. As ABS projections place the number of Australian households at 30 June 2008 at around 8.32 million (see ABS. 3101.0. Australian Demographic Statistics; December Quarter 2007, 24 June 2008, p.53), this suggests that between 22.7% and 25.6% of homes have subscription television, depending on the proportion of FOXTEL’s subscriptions that are residential. Therefore 75% of households will not have access to this channel..

Don’t think anyone has made this point in any of the coverage today…

I’m off to the dentist in a min, but don’t hesitate to call on the mobile..

Cheers,

Sandy

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

11 December 2008

Hi Meg,

All on background – I can confirm – the ABC remains 100% committed to providing a dedicated digital public affairs channel, to give Australian citizens the opportunity to watch key democratic processes and public events in an unmediated form.

This is part of our tri funding submission and will remain a key part of our submission.

We welcome more public affairs television, which is why we developed the proposal for the 2020 Summit.

We think a channel that would include ABC news services, parliamentary sessions of Federal and State Parliaments, major speeches, press conferences, significant court decisions and company AGMs presented live and unedited would give all Australians unfiltered and unprecedented access to the political process.

This is consistent with the ABC’s legislative obligations to provide services that inform, educate and entertain, contribute to a sense of national identity – for all Australians.

It will be broadcast free of charge into every Australian home – not just the 25% who have pay TV.

We think it will help drive the take-up of digital TV.

So probably a little unhelpful for us to sink the boot in at this stage.

Give me a shout it you want to chat…S

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

11 December 2008

Hi Sandy,

No comment on the fact that the PM launched A-Span, apparently without telling the ABC?

Cheers Meg

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

11 December 2008

Nah, don’t think we need to say anything about that..

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

Subject: Sue Howard

17 December 2008

Meg, don’t have anything on this at the moment….will call you as soon as I do….S

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

Subject: Sue Howard

17 December 2008

Deadline approaches….will I hear from you?

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

Subject: Sue Howard

17 December 2008

Unlikely

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

Subject Sue Howard

17 December 2008

I can hold off for another twenty minutes if that would make a difference…if not, appreciate knowing.

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

Subject Sue Howard

17 December 2008

Unlikely…

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

Subject: Sue Howard

18 December 2008

Hi Meg, just read your blog post from last night, will talk to you on the Sue Howard stuff when we can but on background – just need to be clear that Sue Howard has not received the results of her 360 review, none of the Directors have seen the results of their own reviews and the MD has not been briefed on these results either, this is a process that is being rolled out over a 6 month period.

Talk soon. S

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

Subject: RN pods and reach

24 December 2008

Meg, up to date pod and audience figures attached for RN….

Call is set up for 10.30…

S

(Figures were attached and were published on my blog)

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

Subject: RN pods and reach

Thanks Sandy. Should I be ringing Mark on his mobile or some other number when the time comes?

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

Subject: RN pods and reach

24 December 2008

Bets if I get him to dial in…is your home number best?

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

Subject: RN pods and reach

24 December 2008

Quick question which you may  not be able to answer straight away – do the podcast figures include downloads by streaming? I assume not…

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

Subject: RN pods and reach

24 December 2008

Not sure about that Meg…I’ll see if I can check…

From Margaret Simons

To Sandy Culkoff

Subject: RN pods and reach

24 December 2008

No call yet….should I try him?

From Sandy Culkoff

To Margaret Simons

Subject: RN pods and reach

24 December 2008

No he’s running late give me a few mins…

From Michael Millett

To Margaret Simons

17 February 2011

Subject abc stuff

Meg

You should speak to Abbie directly about that issue. Cut out the middle man.

mm

From Margaret Simons

To Michael Millett

1 March 2011

Subject abc stuff

Hi Michael, I have been trying to talk to Abbie, who is away, and her replacement Gabby about the explainer.net thing, with no success. Calls not returned, or not yet in any case. Suggestions? Cheers M

From Michael Millett

To Margaret Simons

1 March 2011

Subject abc stuff

Abbie in longbeach for TED conference and most of Innovation at some planning conference this week. . Will try Gabby.

mm

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