Ramona Koval is right in expressing her concerns about the conflict of interest of Janet Albrechtsen being an ABC Board director while retaining her freelance job as a columnist for News Corporation. Ms Albrechtsen should cease her column writing for News Corporation while she is a director of the ABC as Dr Ron Brunton did (he was a contributor to The Courier-Mail) on his appointment to the ABC Board in May 2003.

ABC Board directors have access to commercial-in-confidence reports and analysis on ABC Enterprises which competes in the commercial marketplace in books, CDs, DVDs and other products. ABC Board directors have access to market-sensitive confidential information on digital broadcasting. In case you hadn’t noticed there’s a lobbying battle underway between the free to air broadcasters (including the ABC and SBS) and Foxtel (Telstra/Murdoch/Packer) over anti-siphoning and FTA multi-channelling. These are highly sensitive issues of vital concern to the survival of the ABC as a mainstream player in Australia’s digital future.

I’m sure Janet Albrechtsen will be mindful of her duties as a director of the ABC. But Communications Minister, Senator Helen Coonan, and the Federal Cabinet should not have put her on the board because of the governance issues this exposes. News Corporation has editorialised that it wants the ABC reduced to the weak and sponsor-dependant voice of PBS in the United States. Ms Albrechtsen’s writings reveal a hostility to the ABC and its role in Australian media. Her appointment to the board is inflammatory and has only served to confirm the worst fears of public broadcasters: that the Howard Government, soon to be equipped with its Senate majority, is out to destroy/marginalise the ABC as News Corporation has consistently urged.

The government has no mandate from the Australian people to touch the ABC. The Coalition’s 2004 election manifesto referred only to a joint government/ABC review of ‘the adequacy and efficient use’ of funding.

And please stop trying to smear and stereotype ABC broadcasters as News Corporation always does. It is pathetic and shows that you are easily diverted from the main game.

Quentin Dempster
A self-appointed advocate for public broadcasting

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