It’s obvious that the “national broadcaster” is missing the presence of former head of news and
current affairs Max Uechtritz since his move to Nine, as Terry
Television reports.
You have to wonder about the ABC, pilloried quite rightly for not
taking The Debate live from Nine on Sunday evening, still smarting over
Laurie Oakes’ jab of the night which said that the Nine Network “was
proud to be the national broadcaster” in bringing the debate live to
Australia, the national broadcaster the turns around and reminds
everyone of its weak-kneed moment.

From the Media section of The Australian today these two items from Amanda Meade’s gossip column:

“THE big loser from the election debate on Sunday night was the ABC,
which was marginalised by managing director Russell Balding’s curious
decision to run the political set piece at 10pm. Predictably, no one
was watching. It was boring enough the first time around on Nine. Diary
understands Balding didn’t want to run the debate at all, believing the
restrictions imposed by the Government compromised the ABC’s
independence. He came up with the compromise at the 11th hour. ABC
political correspondent Jim Middleton dutifully fronted the replay –
minus the comment by Laurie Oakes that Nine was happy to be “the
national broadcaster”. Privately though, Middleton was livid about the
delay, as were most of Aunty’s journalists.”

And this is the response: “News and current affairs chief John
Cameron was not going to take the Oakes comment lying down. He told Diary
it was inappropriate and a cheap shot. ‘Despite how Nine might try to
paint themselves they’re not the national broadcaster, the ABC is quite
obviously the national broadcaster. And the ABC is not driven by
unadulterated commercial interests, not to mention political
affiliations. There’s no other media organisation in the world, with
the qualified exception of the BBC, that has more than 50 newsrooms and
radio stations dotted around the continent pumping out thousands of
hours of local content a week. Nine and the other commercials don’t
come anywhere near that sort of coverage. The fact that they host an
occasional political debate does not make them the national
broadcaster.’ Take that Mr Packer.”

Of course he’d say this. But makes no mention of the appallingly low
level of interest in the 10pm broadcast of the debate – 289,600 people
compared to 1.47 million on Nine earlier in the evening – or the fact
that someone let the recorded debate go to air with the wrong
introduction at the head, one saying that Howard had won the toss and
elected to speak first, when it was Latham who had won the toss and
elected to have the last word.

What Meade and others haven’t pointed out is that since Max Uechtritz
waltzed across to the Nine Network in May, there’s been no one at the
national broadcaster to fight the battle against Ms Levy and her brand
of managerial arrogance.

Max would have made sure there was a live cross on Sunday September 3
to cover the election announcement by the Prime Rodent. He would have
stiffened Russell Balding’s resolve in any argument with Ms Levy.

And the ABC would have been a contender at 7.30pm last Sunday night
with Max still there and would probably have tried to organise its own
analysis.

This column from Mark Day – Wrong calls launch ABC’s own Great Debate – also in today’s Media section of The Australian,
might just reflect reaction from a narrow group of employees,
journalists and producers, but they do matter, a situation that of
course infuriates the whingeing conservatives like plump Piers, jaunty
Janet and tiny Tim.

The growing unease inside the ABC is not going to go away. The fuse has been lit.

And it will be something of a shame that Ms Levy hasn’t the skill nor
the nous to ask for help if she feels so at sea as she obviously does
about editorial matters (the now infamous comment that she didn’t know
there was an election on in reaction to the non-crossing to the PM’s
September 3 announcement, still beggars belief).

But according to ABC types this does cloak her uncertainty in this area
of programming. But in other areas she’s shown a much surer hand and
the ABC’s improved ratings reflect that. Although she is also at sea on
‘factual’ programming issues, such as Rewind and the botch-up she allowed to happen in its development when it was called History Detectives.

But despite John Cameron’s noisy self justification in The Australian today, the national broadcaster (no, not Nine), is certainly missing Max Uechtritz.