Gerard Patane, Business Manager of Network Sport, Network Ten, writes: Re. “Surfing shows the true threat to free-to-air television” (yesterday, item 27). In his comment yesterday, Nick Place highlighted what is possibly the one sport that will only “work” live on the Internet. Due to the unpredictable nature of the weather — in particular swell (or lack thereof at times) — it is impossible to schedule and promote “live” surfing on free to air television networks. As fans of surfing know, such unpredictable conditions generally mean surfing competitions are run over a ten-day window to accommodate five days of competition. How would Nick suggest a free to air network, that is restricted to one channel, could schedule and promote the telecasts for such a sport? As for the savemysport campaign, this is an initiative of the three free-to-air networks, not just Ten. The anti-siphoning list is about ensuring that ten nationally significant sports — plus the Commonwealth and Olympic Games — can continue to be seen on free-to-air by the 75% of Australians who either don’t want or can’t afford to subscribe to pay TV. As Nick points out, the list does not stop pay TV from running many other sporting events for those Australians that want to pay to watch them.

Adam Paull writes: The whole campaign by free-to-air commercial broadcasters to keep popular sports from crossing to the “dark side” of pay television reeks of desperation. They know that their empires have, at best, three years before the foundations of their business – sport, foreign series, and the once mighty Hollywood blockbuster – crumble, leaving them with a probably fatal chasm in their program scheduling. The soon to be arriving, all-new high speed internet will allow program producers and sporting bodies, local and foreign, to pump their signal straight into televisions across the world – and Seven, Nine and Ten will be standing with their noses pressed to your lounge room window wondering how they can get back into the game. This monumental change has been on the horizon and getting larger for years, and the only defence the three networks have come up with to date has been to rape and pillage audiences while they still have a captive market and hope that Telstra’s Foxtel interests were enough to stifle internet speeds in this country. Even Telstra has now conceded that it had better pull its finger out if it wants to have relevance in the coming decade. With the arrogance and contempt the three commercial networks have shown Australian television audiences over the past decade or more, I for one will be laughing myself silly when the best they can offer is 24-hour Quizmania.

John Middleton (Australian Greens candidate for Albert Park, Victorian state election) writes: Re. The evolution of cultural world-views (yesterday, item 12). Charles Richardson wrote: “there is a global ideological conflict between the forces of science and humanism, and religious fundamentalism. In different forms it has been going on for centuries. But in that conflict, Osama bin Laden and George W Bush are on the same side.” This is an insight that occurred to me some time ago and Charles’s observation is the first time I have seen it articulated publicly. But I think that, rather than simply an ideological conflict, it is more a struggle between different levels of human consciousness. In the evolution of cultural world-views (in Ken Wilbur’s terminology from archaic to magic to mythic to rational to vision-logic) religion represents the mythic level and science and humanism the rational. Religious fundamentalism, personified in George W Bush, can be seen as a pathological aspect of religion. The environmentally destructive forces of capitalism can be seen as a pathological outcome of science. Together, they represent twin dangers to civilisation on this planet — the possibility of global warfare and the reality of climate change. The only hope for civilisation is for evolution to continue to progress beyond the mythic and, at the rational level, for humanism and a non-pathological application of science to prevail. I believe that in political terms this hope is represented by the values of the Greens: environmental sustainability; social equity (globally, not just locally); and non-violent resolution of conflict. This is not to say that we must necessarily have Greens governments, but that the electorate must demand that its governments and leaders embrace these values. The recent upsurge in concern about the climate crisis is encouraging. There is still time, but not much.

David Imber, Policy and Liaison Worker with the Tenants Union of Victoria, writes: Re. Is Nine selling timeslots? (yesterday, item 19). I was pleased to see your report on Talking Real Estate as I caught the last few minutes of the Nine Network show on the weekend and was horrified. It looked like a huge ad (the sort you expect to see for face creams at 3am) and as an organisation with an interest in consumers in the real estate market I was quite concerned at the thought of more property p-rn and the lack of disclosure. We’ve been concerned for a while about the ongoing practice of positive editorial in the property sections of newspapers. For a long time the Real Estate Institutes have had a column each week for their CEO to push their issues (presumably provided as part of a deal in exchange for providing house price data). I’ve never seen any disclosure about this. We certainly haven’t been offered any such equivalence but then again our members aren’t the top advertisers in the papers.

Tony Thompson writes: Re. “Is Nine selling timeslots?” Maybe it is a new event in the east but to my mind, here in WA Channel Nine has been selling timeslots for a number of years. Two examples come to mind. The first is the The Real Estate, Lifestyle and Investment Programme (since retitled to the Russell Goodrick Show) produced by and featuring former channel Nine newsreader Russell Goodrick. It had a significant real estate component where advertisers and properties featured happened to coincide in each episode. The second is the Garden Gurus which is supposedly a gardening show; however it is clearly a 30 minute advertisement by product placement and endorsement by the presenters Trevor Cochrane and Neville Passmore for any product that they use during the show. On top of this Nine also runs the usual number of ads in each program.

Victoria Collins writes: Re: Christian Kerr’s “A gay time with Malcolm, a better time for Liberalism?” (yesterday, item 7). I am sure it is merely an oversight for the well-travelled Mr Kerr but I would have thought that he must have known that Far Northern Queensland is home to what may be one of the next largest concentrations of the Australian homos-xual diaspora outside of Oxford Street. Hence Warren Entsch may also have one eye on the gay constituency in his electorate with his recent conversion to their causes.

Ryan Heath writes: Christian Kerr’s fatuous piece on Malcolm Turnbull and gay rights is not one of his better ones. I don’t have any political interest in defending Malcolm, but his views on these matters are consistent and welcome, as are Warren Entsch’s. They tally with his general political approach, and with his wife Lucy’s track record in local government. It’s also worth pointing out to Christian that Oxford Street is hardly the “gay golden mile” any more (one Saturday night out observing the crowds of binge drinking straight louts on the “golden mile” is proof enough of that). More seriously though, I found the links Christian made between “fabulousness”, fashion labels and the voting intentions of gays to be far more suspect than any newfound fire in Malcolm Turnbull’s gay rights belly.

Jon Fairall writes: I was interested to read the story by Sophie Black that suggested that ONA might report we could be swamped by millions of Pacific Islanders. Go here to get population estimates for the Pacific. If you exclude PNG, Fiji and New Caledonia from the list, you get less than 1.5 million people in total. Hardly a deluge of environmental refugees. More like a trickle of desperate souls.

Alan Lander writes: Charles Richardson is right (yesterday, item 9): Labor doesn’t need 40% primary to win. A very large number of ALP voters, disillusioned with the party’s position on the political “spectrum” in recent times, “park” their primary vote with the Greens, using it as an opportunity to send a message. Many of these voters would run a mile – back to the ALP – if the Greens were somehow in a potential position to take power, as what they are really trying to say is “we need a party which lies between the ALP and the Greens on the political spectrum” (where some thought the Dems were, pre-Meg Lees). The Libs call the ALP “left”, but that’s true only of the ALP’s position relative to them – a sort of “magnetic pole” position, which moves as the parties do, always central between them. The “true pole” position is what many of us use as the political spectrum centre; a balance between economic and social imperatives – of which the ALP is currently some way to the right.

David Tanner writes: Wendy McMahon (yesterday, comments) should also remember that there are three fundamentals which MUST be taught and they are Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. There are many students who are still woefully deficient in these areas and unless something is done to arrest the problem, then all the diversity in the curriculum isn’t going to help a student one little bit.

Margaret Simons writes: Mark Bahnisch informs us that Crikey’s article last Friday, “Fear and Loathing in the Blogosphere”, may have given readers the impression that the Weathergirl, who used to blog regularly for Larvatus Prodeo, stopped posting because of that site’s comments policy. This is not the case. She partly backed away because of the abuse her work was attracting on other sites. Bahnisch says: “I would certainly not tolerate the degree of abuse and ad hominem argumentation in some comments threads that disfigure Catallaxy, and all of us at LP have put considerable time and effort into both considering issues of moderation and enforcing our comments policy. We lean towards allowing a freer play of comments than some sites, but it would be quite wrong to imagine that we tolerate abusive or offensive comments, and moderators intervene in many threads.” Meanwhile, Weathergirl herself writes that it is incorrect to state she was “outed” with her true identity only after writing for Crikey. “I was actually outed a couple of months before that debate, but you’re right, by Jason Soon.”

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name – we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason. 

Peter Fray

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