Jun 20, 2012

A worrying coincidence?

A tweet from the ABC's Mark Colvin caught my eye last night: Fairfax mgmt spox @ SMH today, asked if paywall will be undermined by ABC: "After next

A tweet from the ABC’s Mark Colvin caught my eye last night:

Then today this pops up on the front of The Australian:
Screen Shot 2012 06 20 at 11 14 23 AM
Kelly opines:

Given the market vacuum opening, Australia can no longer afford a heavily taxpayer-funded ABC locked into a fashionable “writers festival” political culture that caters to a dedicated “true believer” minority. The ABC carries a special responsibility at this point in history.

That means commitment to the central policy questions: the decline in productivity and competitiveness, rising protectionism, the need for tax reform, the implications of industrial re-regulation, the loss of trust in politics, the rise of entitlement, the ramifications of population ageing, the resources boom and lethargy in education and health systems.

It requires an approach more mainstream, more intellectual and more independent.

The media restructuring should mean a greater journalistic onus with opportunity for the public broadcasters.

While there is a lot of deserved attention being paid to the future of Fairfax in light of Gina Rinehart’s current play for control, should we actually be asking about whether the ABC is about to cop yet another thrashing from their competitors, and perhaps the Coalition?

It’s a potentially frightening echo of James Murdoch’s 2009 speech where he called for the BBC to be reined in to remove competition for commercial operators. If Fairfax believe that the ABC will not “be a problem” after the next election, does it matter who owns them? The statement from Fairfax seems to be a fairly clear call for the Coalition to neuter the ABC, to reduce its reach and prevent it from competing with the commercial news providers who are hoping that new paywalls will save their businesses. Under these circumstances can Fairfax’s editorial independence, which journalists are rightly trying to protect, mean anything if their commercial survival hinges on electing a Coalition government?

Meanwhile, Kelly’s call for the ABC to become “more mainstream” is nothing more than an attempt to shift the goal posts and define anyone that doesn’t share the worldview of The Australian as being a fringe dweller. Indeed, it’s worth holding the paper that Kelly is published in up against the demands he makes of the ABC, for example, where was The Australian when high income earners squealed about losing their private health insurance rebate? Questioning entitlement mentality? Not when they could take the opportunity to bash the ALP.

While we regularly question some aspects of the ABC here at Pure Poison we also realise that the ABC is a vital part of Australian democracy that needs to be protected and properly resourced, let’s hope that an ABC even further diminished is not in our future.

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60 thoughts on “A worrying coincidence?

  1. Merve

    When you see the ABC journalists who leave to start a political career, there appears to be just as many looking to the Liberal’s as those looking to sign up with Labor. This whole ‘left-bias’ at the ABC is simply not supportable with any evidence. All we have is a right wing that cannot tolerate any dissent with their world view.

  2. Steve777

    Mr Kelly’s piece makes perfect sense if you consult the News Corporation dictionary:

    “mainstream” – description applied to the values and positions held by the proprietors of News Corporation; friendly to the financial and political interests of the overwhelming majority of the proprietors and managers of large corporations, especially News Corporation.

    “intellectual” – dissemination of the values and positions held by the proprietors and management of the overwhelming majority of large corporations, especially News Corporation.

    “independent” – supporting the values and positions held by the prioprietors and management of the overwhelming majority of large corporations, especially News Corporation.

  3. Daniel Ruben

    In any case. The Australian’s “paywall” doesn’t even show up if you have Google Chrome with Adblocker. All you get is Orwellian abbreviation. What a joke.

  4. Daniel Ruben

    ABC bashing is as old as the invention of the telegraph and those who bash it are always those who want the centre to shift further right. ABC bashing from a media company which employs columnists such as Janet Albrechtsen and Andrew Bolt… irresolute problem for these is just that Australians are neither sheep nor stupid.

  5. Hamis Hill

    Thankyou, Jules, for your fine efforts, most edifying and most appreciated.
    And a good example to all other posters.
    John Roskams (correct author?) “Hitler’s Pope” outlines how a “Concordat”
    between the two in 1933 required the church to agree to the dissolution of the Church’s Working Mens Clubs as being too dangerously democratic to continue to exist without being a threat to Hitler’s plans for a totalitarian state. And the operating principles of the totalitarian state were established by the institution of the “Papal Inquisition” begging the question should the book have been more accurately titled “The Pope’s Hitler”?
    Unfortunately for Australia none of this is over-egged. Track down and read the late Frank devine’s 1993 article ‘Vatican IN Van Of New Cold War” where that church’s self declared public intellectuals virtually declared war, see title of article, on the US for
    being a “secular (read godless) democracy”, “steeped in the idolatry of self”. Devine had good US contacts. All such Vatican directed “New Cold Wars” on all the secular democracies being temporarilly set aside by the global child abuse scandals and the Twin Tower attacks. But the 5GW?, seems to fit in with the First Vatican council of 1859 and plans to oppose democracy following the church’s experiences in the French Revolutionary wars ending oly two generation’s earlier. Not really over-egged is it? this history of “that church’s” continuing involvement in politics. Not comfortable, but not over-egged.

  6. jules

    Micheal WH.I think that is cos its not actually conservatism they’re promoting. Its a particular right wing view that is authoritarian, corporate and nastily Machiavellian. Its concerned with power above all else, its not really an ideology or political viewpoint so much as it is a worship of power.

    Some people might call it fascism. It is a sort of fascism I spose.

    Tho perhaps I’m over egging it.

    A few years ago I was into the concepts of 4th and 5th generation warfare, and the relationship between 5GW, PR and advertising. 5th generational warfare is waging a war without the opponent knowing it, and i was under the impression that post Howard that was what was happening in Australian politics. The purpose of politics was now to be in power, not to promote ideological views of how society should function.

    But it seemed a little too far out to really take seriously. Tho looking back it seems perhaps that was/is the case after all. Since Grech it appears that traditional Liberal party politics isn’t … well it doesn’t exist. the whole game is about gaining power and handing on to it, and the only way to achieve it is to attack and destroy the ALP, and then the Greens as a potential power in politics.

    Thats the ideology or lack of it. Not the ideology of Menzies, or even Howard. There is no logic to this process, other than the logic of power, and the stuff O’Brien went on about in 1984 seems to influence them as much as anything else.There is no working with “conservatives’ these days.

    Ultimately to be healthy a society probably needs its left and right wings to work together in some form. Then it can fly, otherwise it’ll crash to earth in an ugly mess. One group has given up on this.

    Ultimately, real conservatives and real progressives would have fewer differences than similarities, and even a hard core radical like myself can see that in some cases conservatism isn’t bad. Habeus Corpus and the presumption of innocence are important ideas that should be conserved. The separation of powers is worth conserving. Once upon a time these ideas were probably considered progressive, but at some point in our history carving stone axes and walking upright were as well.

    No institution will function well unless a good form of tension between progressive and conservative ideas is there, and is encouraged. Cos things have to change and adapt, but some mutations are fatal, while others are what led us here from LCUA. Ideally there should be a (robust, and sometimes agressive) dialogue between both sides to get us mutating in a way that enables us to adapt to future changes.

    This process is broken at the moment.

  7. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Indiana, as a progressive I expect to disagree with conservatives because we have different values.

    But what I find shocking is that most of what is said by conservative posters on Crikey ignore the facts and use ignorance and lies to support their views. Climate change is probably the best example, but it applies to political discussions just as much.

    I think the MSM has some blame for this. Even the ABC now sees its role as providing the views of just those whom they deem prominent, and doing so without questing what is said.

  8. Indiana Jones

    Regarding the media shaping vs following opinion thing:

    I get that people generally try to find facts that support their own view point and ignore others.

    I get that people being shown facts that contradict their beliefs can actually serve to reinforce their beliefs.

    I do not get that the media has to play into this. I want a media that does not. If I could blame peoples opinions solely on the above, well then fair enough. Maybe I could try to find a psychological solution to it. But while the media does play into this, psychology in general is a second order problem swamped by this surfeit of drivel. While the media are more interested in pandering to whatever vested interest and while they completely ignore facts at times to do this, I think I have the right, nay the obligation, to shout about it. And to demand another answer. And I say that whatever rules it works under at the moment, it is failing. If, indeed, it has not already failed.

    Maybe it can be improved with more regulation. Maybe it can be improved with less. Maybe all government, maybe all privatized, probably some mix, no matter what you think of the current one. Maybe there is another answer that no one has thought of yet. But I think we need more facts and less noise because it is not doing well just now and we need a better answer.


  9. ShaunHC

    Yes the American people are just so progressive.

    They elected a black president.

    Alternatively they could have elected a republican, just at the time that their economy was going down the sinkhole due to the stewardship of the bush presidency.

    One thing I am going to be glad about when PP goes is never again having to put up with Howard B’s world view.

  10. Aliar Jones

    [The evolutionary equivalent of conservatism is a failure to mutate and history is littered with the bones of extinct species that took that path.]

    Aha! familiar surroundings then for Howtard who claims to be ensconced in the mothball encased graveyard of the ‘great lower north shore’.

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