Christian Kerr writes:

Crikey’s ABC Radio reporting this week has sparked plenty of debate, so now might be the time to ask: how do ratings specifically fit into the broadcaster’s current business and strategic plans?

Are there specific key performance indicators for ABC managers and executives regarding ratings? Are there incentives to improve ratings? Do senior management receive bonuses for improving ratings or reaching certain ratings targets? And what does this all mean for resources for program making?

If you’ve got the answers to any of the questions email [email protected] Here are some of the responses to yesterday’s story on how the pursuit of ratings is damaging the ABC.

Former ABC staffer Stephen Feneley writes:
Moonlighting as Crikey’s media correspondent, Christian Kerr has brought attention to one of the least talked about drawbacks of Aunty dumbing down – the dumber it gets the more it costs. At the same time as ABC Radio boss Sue Howard is paying big bucks for intellectually light talent on the local network, Radio National is facing a major crisis because of a one million dollar shortfall. Sue Howard controls the budgets for both radio networks.

Here’s my suggestion: a salary cap of $150,000 a year for all on-air personalities across all ABC networks (yes, that means a more than 50% cut in pay for you, Kerry). Also, no-one at the ABC should be earning more than the prime minister, which would see Russell Balding taking a dive in pay of more than $100,000. The money saved from those two initiatives would more than solve Radio National’s funding crisis and there might even be enough money left over for a much needed boost to the quality of research on the local radio network. This is something the ABC board could insist on. If those suffering a pay cut don’t like it, they can leave, which probably would result in the ABC sounding more like the ABC should sound. How likely is it this would ever happen? There’s probably a better chance of Andrew Bolt being offered a gig on 774.

Former ABC sparring partner David Flint writes:
By imitating commercial radio and TV, the ABC must think ratings are some sort of a defence. But the ratings of, say, some panel game, are no answer to the criticism that the ABC too often reports the world through a left wing prism. All taxpayers fund public broadcasting. The ABC exists to provide diversity and excellence, and particularly, programs which commercial broadcasting cannot or will not broadcast.

And an anonymous ABC insider writes:
Don’t start me on ABC local radio stations. Many ABC new and current affairs reporters can’t stand them. They resent the ABC’s top journlistic endeavours like AM and PM and then taint the whole ABC with their ill-conceived and inept attempts to cover public affairs themselves.

What a different world it is now. There’s no way someone like Andrew Olle would get a gig these days judging by the lightweight Sally Loane types now preferred. Sad to see Angela go though – she was a bit different, had ABC pedigree and wasn’t one of the dullards brought over from Fairfax and then clung to limpetlike despite their total lack of broadcasting presence.

And while I’m at it, what in hell’s name are the ABC Local Radio Awards? When I was in Adelaide I heard Matt Abrahams say he was being flown up for the awards. What awards? What do they cost? Who approved them? What purpose do they serve except as an expensve round of back slapping and self-congratulation? In short – what a total w*nk! I think it is definitely worth following this up. Imagine if ABC news and current affairs just decided out of the blue that it would hold an awards night and invite all the ABC journos from newsrooms around Australia. Well this is just as pathetic a waste of taxpayers’ money as that would be and I reckon if you start the ball rolling, this will be raised in Senate Estimates in no time.