Dec 5, 2011

Australia Network contract goes to ABC; News Ltd really restrained and reasonable about it

I'm sure this is a result that News Ltd, part

Pure Poison IconI'm sure this is a result that News Ltd, part owner of Sky News, will take with dignity and restraint:
ABC handed permanent Australia Network deal The Federal Government has decided that the contract for the Australia Network international television service will remain with the ABC.
After all, the journalists employed by News Ltd are there to inform their readers, not to advocate relentlessly for the commercial interests of their boss. I'm sure it'll be fine.

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43 thoughts on “Australia Network contract goes to ABC; News Ltd really restrained and reasonable about it

  1. Matthew of Canberra

    “Why would you give the contract to a company whose parent has spent the last 3 years trying to bring you down, by whatever means is available? “

    Or bring down ANYONE, for that matter? As long as that service is regarded externally as an official voice of australia, it should be accountable to the guv of the day, IMHO.

  2. Gorgeous Dunny

    Reading the saga, at least as little as is known at present, it strikes me as a splendid bit of Karma. I’m guessing here from the dateline that this tender process originated as a FA Dept recommendation. I’d speculate further that it was a continuum of the Howard government process even though initiated well into Labor’s reign.

    I’m guessing that Cabinet did not take much notice beyond the tendering recommendations. It seems doubtful that this was a Rudd thing, as some speculated some time back, albeit Rudd probably went along with it. The ABC raised the heat on the issue when rumors suggested Sky would win the tender.

    Gillard and Conroy have used the leaks, ‘corrupting the tender process’, as an excuse for first halting and then awarding the ABC the contract. There is probably substance to this as both have referred to it frequently. But it is very likely the leaks drew the government’s closer attention to what was happening. And then the hard questions came.

    Why would you give the contract to a company whose parent has spent the last 3 years trying to bring you down, by whatever means is available? Sky may only have a percentage of News ownership, but it seems to echo FOX in style. It would be madness to support such a group, albeit the trashing of the ABC news and current affairs is also a problem.

    The Karma as I see it is: for the last two years or so News Ltd has joined with Abbott in creating fake impressions that the Home Insulation Scheme and the BER were major government stuff-ups. Both were successful and important programs in keeping Australia out of the mire of the GFC. Yet you wouldn’t know that from the media cycle.

    This one does seem to be one, first by the bureaucracy and then cabinet. It is a nice bit of Karma that News Ltd is on the receiving end of this one, after playing such a big role in creating the false impression of incompetence earlier.

  3. Matthew of Canberra

    “On the matter of the Oz Network Bernard Keane is just plain wrong and bigoted.”

    Oh, Angra, don’t hold back. Tell us what you REALLY think 🙂

  4. Archer

    Steven Conroy opened his big mouth on Radio National (and a number of other media outlets)

    KIRK: And Sky News Chief Angelos Frangopoulos says the decision was extraordinary given the tender was still the subject of two investigations. He says Sky expects to be fully compensated. On that at least the minister agrees, as he told the ABC’s Paul Robinson.

    CONROY: Look I think that they have a fair case. Obviously any issues around cost would have to be negotiation and they’d have to be verifiable, but I think that it’s a fair case to say that a lot of time, effort and money went into that tender process, and a discussion around costs I’m sure will take place.

  5. Cuppa

    You can just imagine the confusion of some of the overseas audience on watching the ABC’s efforts at bringing them Australian news for a few days.

    [“Doesn’t Australia HAVE an elected government? All we hear is what ‘The Federal Opposition says.'”]

  6. B.Tolputt

    Paul Kelly takes it really well… well, for a News Ltd hack anyway. He gets in both a whinge about the process, a claim the whole thing was fixed from the start, the fact that the decision was wrong even if it wasn’t fixed, and also ties it into the Kevin Rudd leadership narrative being played across the Murdoch rags.

    I wonder if he actually got marching orders on this one or decided to write [email protected] on his own initiative? No analysis, just pure assertion that “we woz robbed”.

  7. Angra

    On the matter of the Oz Network Bernard Keane is just plain wrong and bigoted. He doesn’t seem to have lived outside the neat borders of Australia.

    We actually have some crediblity with the neighbours – unlike the Poms or the US services (rarely available) – which are just seen as propaganda.

    Anyway in many places the ONLY English language TV service is Australia Network.

    To retain credibility it needs to be seen as non-partisan which raises Australia’s reputation in the area. To have given it to a commercial operator would have been seen locally in many nations as a cop-out.

    Believe it or not the national broadcaster is seen as a credible source of information in many countries. And to call it just a source of footy broadcasts for expats is grossly patonising and ignorant.

    Has Keane ever lived outside Australia? Or even seen Australia Network broadcasts? Or talked to other contrie’s locals about it?

    No – thought not.

  8. Angrybudgie

    @MoC they have to get it absolutely right some time… hope it’s this time and the spivs get nothing for their troubles.

  9. AR

    Shanahanou was weeping on Rat Hately’s shoulder on 2GB this morning, claiming it wouldn’t even have been in Mudorc’s clutches “as they only have a third of a third of a third stake in SKY!” ie <4%.
    Which, were true, just demonstrates how even the slightest taint of the Evil Empire is utterly toxic.

  10. Indiana Jones

    *ack last 4 words last post: ‘For what it is.’

  11. Indiana Jones

    AJ. Saying that a pre-emptive prediction for what we are pretty sure they will do is inappropriate is not the same as concern trolling, neither is it an endorsement of NL et al on my part. I suspect that under that daily cloak of lies, spin and bullshit, lies a lot of lies spin and bullshit. I hope this changes eventually, I would be truly astonished if it changed today.

    However, thusly, because of this and therefore I think that:

    Allowing them any sort of justification, no matter how wafer thin, to have even a sniff of legitimacy by being any less than scrupulously fair with them is a bad idea. Why give NL et al the opportunity to be able to say ‘Look! We are being accused of stuff we haven’t even done yet!’ and therefore to be able to play the ‘Martyred Victim of Free Speech Oppressors’ role they so desperately crave? Give them an inch of this stuff, they will take a yard for sure. They are very good at doing this.

    I want to be as fair as I possibly can with them, but not because I endorse them or are concerned for them. But rather so that the dreck that NL et al so often call journalism can be shown up more effectively to be the vote buying, scaremongering, agenda pushing rubbish that it manges to convince so many of its readers that it isn’t, that it is.

  12. Fran Barlow

    I get that MOC — and I certainly hope they spivs from Fox get nada because of the way the tender EOI was composed. Really the government was silly to put it up in the first place.

    Bernard Keane says the whole service should have been axed. Perhaps he’s right.

  13. Aliar Jones

    [And I am happy to lead the charge with the Written Pitch Forks and Rhetorical Burning Brands. But not pre-emptively.]

    Er that reads suspiciously like someone who thinks there might be a legitimate news organization hiding under that cloak of bullshit, lies and daily spin…(reeks a bit of concern troll frankly)

    The way ahead looks exactly like what’s behind…they’ve got more form for crook journalism and crony reporting than you can poke your pitch fork at..

  14. Matthew of Canberra

    One would assume that the government dotted it’s “I’s” and crossed it’s “T’s”

    Oooh, probably not. I mean, come on … the odds?

    “Give the spivs from Fox central casting nada.”

    I suspect the AAT would be the one making the decision, not us.

  15. Fran Barlow

    I disagree MOC. Give the spivs from Fox central casting nada. Let them whistle for it. The only sad thing is that the ABC had to waste money on it. I’d never have talked about having a tender in the first place.

  16. Indiana Jones

    MoC @10

    Well, nothing I had seen at the time of writing my post. The 2 examples you gave, sure, lets give them the blow torch treatment. But even those 2 were not extant at the time of this thread being started.

    Aliar @ 25 (most recently, but also others)

    I also tend to agree with what you say will most likely happen. But I still think that this expected outcome, whilst very very likely, is not necessarily all pervasively inevitable. When we do see cases of journalistic masturbation, as I fully expect to, time then to take them down on a case by case basis. And I am happy to lead the charge with the Written Pitch Forks and Rhetorical Burning Brands. But not pre-emptively.

  17. Angrybudgie

    There are certain rules regarding the cancelling of a tender process. Compensation for the cancellation of a tender process will depend on ‘why’ it was cancelled in the first place.

    One would assume that the government dotted it’s “I’s” and crossed it’s “T’s” to ensure that the reason they cancelled would not legally require them to pay compensation to the losing tenderers.

  18. Matthew of Canberra

    “we’ll see the crazy ratcheted up to a whole new notch we haven’t seen before in this country”

    Yeah, and NEWS has been giving them such an easy run so far. The guv had really better watch out, because they’ve got NO idea what’s coming …


    Actually, those sedition laws might turn out to be relevant after all.

  19. Aliar Jones

    If there’s one thing we can be certain of, there will be retribution from Ltd News…my prediction is we’ll see the crazy ratcheted up to a whole new notch we haven’t seen before in this country.

    They are a company which thrives on bullying to achieve the results they desire.

  20. fredex

    ” monkeywrench
    Posted December 6, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
    I think we should call a spade a spade: the Government did this to teach Murdoch a lesson. And should be roundly applauded for it.”

    Fully agree.

    And StarFoxNews can read the fine print about ‘commercial risk’ from the ‘Handbook of Capitalism’ and go take a flying jump.

  21. monkeywrench

    I think we should call a spade a spade: the Government did this to teach Murdoch a lesson. And should be roundly applauded for it.

  22. Matthew of Canberra

    “but I do think that Sky have a gripe about the arbitrary end to a procees I would assume they entered into in good faith.”

    I agree. If they need to be compensated, so be it. But the broadcast service is where it should have been all along.

  23. Cuppa

    Neither Sky News nor Their ABC ‘deserved’ to get the broadcasting contract. On the one hand, in many ways Sky News is literally more fair and balanced than their ABC in the past couple of years. On the other hand Sky is linked to the same media empire that’s given the world toxic entities such as FOXNews (which, going by appearances, their ABC is trying to outdo in the right-wing mouthpiece stakes) and the phone-hacking scandal. A pox on both applicants.

  24. Angra

    Mr Wonderful promises that his MTR programme will today debate “How bad is the Australia Network anyway?”

    Not being one of the sadly oppressed minority of Australians that have the misfortune of living ‘down south’ I don’t even know what MTR is. But I can guess.

    And I can guess what he will say.

    Any suggestions?

    Here’s their homepage –

    Looks pretty reasonable to me. And I used to watch it regulalrly when working in the Pacific. And my relo’s took the English classes and thought they were pretty good. I can only advise that their English language skills did improve.

    So without wishing to soil myself by having consider “what’s wrong with it” from The Master – can someone enlighten me? Is it because it’s run by the ABC?

  25. B.Tolputt

    Honestly, I think SKY needs to prove the tender & subsequent decision due to marred process was made in bad faith before demanding compensation. I’ve been involved in quite a few tenders (comes from developing software for government departments / agencies) and it’s always a gamble as to whether the time, money, and effort will pay off. The upside of the gamble is a large project that tends to pay pretty well, the down side is that you may not get it for a wide variety of reasons (alot of them often out of your control).

    If one is compensated for the gamble if you happen to not get the tender, I can see a whole new industry of companies tendering for government projects without the intention of actually getting it.

  26. The Pav

    As to whether the process was bungled or part of some skulduggery I prefer Sir Humphrey’s take on these situations ie ” When faced between a choice between lethagy or strategy always assume lethegy” or something like that.

    I am glad the service stays with the ABC but I do think that Sky have a gripe about the arbitrary end to a procees I would assume they entered into in good faith. Putting a tender together is time consuming & expensive and if you don’t win so be it. That’s the business risk. If it is just ignored then that’s not reasonable. Unless they were responsible for some of the problems then I think they have a fair claim.

    Slightly off topic but still to do with News Ltd. I notice thet The Australian was being given away gratis to commuters at the Murray St Station in Perth. They were still struggling to shift them and th Big Issue was moving quicker and people had to pay for that!

  27. Eponymous

    Pfffft, suck it up Sky. There is a risk in any tender process that you won’t get the work. I don’t see how this is any different to them just not getting the job.

    No one forced them to tender.

  28. BoganInParasite

    While I can make no judged comment on the ABC versus Sky bids, I can say that two years of watching the Australia Network in an asian location has left me with the distinct feeling that the ABC should be doing a lot better.

    There are too many program repeats, programs with no relevance to Australians overseas or projecting Australia to the world and in 2011, sports coverage skewed to AFL. Some of the time fillers such as the two surf rats (who appear to have just been dragged out of it in a distressed state) and present aspects of Australiana, just make me cringe.

    The only time Australia Network steps up to the mark for me is Sunday morning. Most of the rest is a test of patience.

  29. Angra

    To consider outsourcing the Australia Network to a foreign-owned private company was insane to begin with. It is the diplomatic and cultural face of Australia to millions of people in Asia and the Pacific. And has great English language educational content.

    Not even the cousin’s wildest rightists ever considered flogging off their equivalent – the Voice of America. Imagine the outcry if they did?

  30. RobJ

    Trollumnist highlights why Murdoch can’t be trusted… He does it just about everyday with his pathetic rants designed to excite his idiot, ignorant, redneck fanbase. Murdoch’s people will do ANYTHING for a story, they’ll even hack the phone accounts of murdered children.

    [I can’t share your optimism.]

    Hear hear..

    Having said all that, Sky probably should be compensated for the Govt’s bungling.. Politicians stuff up and nothing happens to them, the tax payer foots the bill.

  31. Aliar Jones

    Might have had something to do with being a legitimate news business?

  32. SHV

    Sorry Raven but:

    [unlikely that Sky would have done a genuinely crappy job]

    I can’t share your optimism.

    I can only go on the entire history of the Murdoch enterprise as my guide. I believe that not only would they almost certainly have done an abysmal “job” they would have been downright dangerous with their hands on AusTV.

  33. joe2

    [Now it’s entirely possible that there’s some genuine skulduggery (as opposed to plain infighting and inefficiency) in the tender process which has prompted this pretty unusual outcome, but that’s not in public view yet.]

    Yes. Conroy has something up his sleeve, methinks. We could be watching a game of cat and mouse, here, with the minister fishing for a Murdoch over reaction while they are reluctant to engage. Just yet.

  34. Matthew of Canberra

    IJ @6


    Third World politics by a desperate and vicious government

    Another Labor critic punished

    This from the Government that has called a media inquiry into the “hate media”, waged a jihad against the Daily Telegraph, seen two journalists dumped over articles critical of the Prime Minister, corrupted a tender process to strip a contract from Sky News

    Nothing Howard did comes close to this Government’s misuse of state power to stifle dissent.

    NOTHING, you hear! Deciding to put the australia network back under government auspices where it should have been all along is CORRUPTION. And it’s certainly worse than leaking a classificed document to a friendly journalist (anyone remember which one?) to undermine criticism from somebody who knew things the government didn’t want YOU to know. And worse than the sedition laws, which specifically targetted news corporations. Certainly worse than arranging “adverse” security findings against protesters and sending them with a first-class escort, at their own expense. Heaps worse than moving all offshore processing to a country which (coincidentally) refused entry to journalists or lawyers. Should I go on?

    And what the heck is this “jihad” against the tele? Is he talking about ministers making sure that other news outlets are given copies of answers to any questions from NEWS so that at least there’s a chance that they’d be published accurately somewhere? That’s not refusing a public’s right to know. That’s a desperate attempt to try to make sure that they DO know.

    And no, those two journalists were not “dumped” for “being critical of the prime minister. Any more than the hun found itself in court for singing kumbaya.

  35. Skiman

    While I am glad the ABC has been appointed, Sky should be reimbursed its tendering costs. That would be appropriate in a cancelled tender with this outcome.

  36. Ravenred

    FWIW, I feel is WAS a bungled tender process and that Sky can be rightfully enraged about the apparently arbitrary nature of the result. Anti-Murdoch views aside, I think it unlikely that Sky would have done a genuinely crappy job (I assume that the Government of the day would have some degree of editorial control).

    Now it’s entirely possible that there’s some genuine skulduggery (as opposed to plain infighting and inefficiency) in the tender process which has prompted this pretty unusual outcome, but that’s not in public view yet.

  37. RobJ

    Imagine News won the contract, they’d be broadcasting into Asia getting our leaders/politician’s names wrong, accidentally on purpose. Murdoch’s media companies have form, real bad form, their track record is appalling. Murdoch owns the Sun and Fox News… enough said!

  38. Indiana Jones

    Now, now folks. They haven’t done/published anything about it yet, lets wait till they do. The possibility exists after all that Sky News Australia Limited (or whatever they are calling themselves nowadays) will indeed be fair and balanced. If and when they aren’t we can all cry boo then, but pre-emptive is not the way to go.

    After all, it’s irritating enough to listen to/read about NL being persecuted without giving them (albeit small!) justification for same by jumping the gun.

  39. Mack the Knife

    The Australian has already started the ‘bungled tender process’ meme.

    I wonder what the new attitude of the Turdoch sycophants like La Triolli, Barry Cassidy, Chris Uhlman and others will be now? Will we get unbiased content?

    This is a win for Australia and Asia when you consider the anti Muslim ravings of the News Corpse press that would have been expanded had they won this contract.

  40. Cuppa

    If you want to help push the ABC to return to its Charter, please vote and comment on the petition.

  41. SHV

    Never read that Murdoch filth.

    Unfortunately, I still listen to the ABC.

    All they had tonight was ‘fair and balanced’ mentions of how ‘Sky’ (no mention of the disgraced Murdoch empire) would sue for its expenses of tendering, and the usual “the opposition says…” tripe.

    Stuff it. Sell the ABC to Murdoch for eleventy xillion dollars and be done with it. It’s obviously the only way we are going to get anything of value from it while it’s run by fundamentalist christian science deniers.

    Then we can set up a new one called ‘XYZ’ using the dusty old charter from the ABC and get back to some vague idea of journalism.

    PS: Pretty hard to find factual and balanced stories about Assange’s appeal anywhere on Oz media tonight. The most honest was Al Jazeera!

  42. sean

    Sky is already demanding that the government foot the bill for its own tender application. I sense a headline with ‘bad government’ in it.

  43. Christopher Armstrong

    No, please don’t say that, now you’re just goading them.

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