Where has Australian commercial TV
news been in the aftermath of the second biggest natural disaster in
the world this year – not the flooding devastation of Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita in friendly America, but the aftermath of the killer
7.6 temblor that has shaken Kashmir?

With more than 20,000
people dead and thousands more injured and missing, it’s a tragedy of
immense proportions. Yet apart from the ABC, there’s been no attempt by
Australian TV news to cover it in any depth with an Australian voice.

Matt Brown from the ABC has done sterling work, and his story on Thursday night’s 7.30 Report was powerful and the effort of a fine compassionate reporter.

On
rivals Seven and Nine News a bit of agency vision and a voice over, and
that’s been the same since the start of the week: stories repackaged
and re-voiced. No on-the-spot reports from the commercials.

It’s
another example of why, for all their proud boasting about how many
people get their news from Nine or Seven, when it comes to explaining
the tough stories or reporting from the difficult parts of the world,
the ABC (and to a lesser extent SBS) provide the only Australian voice.

This is a human tragedy of far greater and long-lasting proportions
than either of the two bombing outrages in Bali. Kashmir is a
flashpoint between India and Pakistan, the two nuclear powers in our
immediate region, and in the case of Pakistan, intimately involved in
Afghanistan, where Australian troops are fighting.

Covering
stories like Kashmir is a sign of the maturity and experience of the
organisation involved: the ABC has it, the commercials don’t.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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