Is it time for the management of ABC TV to wrest control of the key 7.30pm timeslot from Kerry O’ Brien and all those who reside in the national 7.30 Report? Such a move will get the luvvies and friends of the ABC and fellow travellers up in arms, claiming the conservative, Howard-Government appointed board has neutered “Red Kerry” and the ABC, but that’s not what I’m on about. No, it’s to do with the way the ABC is refusing to tackle state-based issues. Answer this question: if you were running state based editions of The 7.30 Report what would you be reporting on right now? In Perth it would be the Crime and Corruption Commission’s dismemberment of the State Government; in Queensland it would be the Beattie Government’s scandalous handling of water (and health); in NSW it would be election stories every night (after all, the NSW election may be boring but it is more important to the people of NSW than a Red Kerry chat with British actor Rupert Everett). Last night, Kerry O’Brien had an interview with WA premier, Alan Carpenter. That was made “national” by Kevin Rudd’s confession yesterday that he met Brian Burke three times in 2005. It had nothing to do with the fact that WA governance is being ripped apart for the second time in 20 years. If Rudd had not met Burke do you reckon O’Brien would have talked to Carpenter?  O’Brien’s role as presenter and editor (he’s paid a lot of money for doing both) means the normal control over the program through the Executive Producer is not certain at The 7.30 Report.  Tonight at 7.30pm it’s the token Stateline around the country where local issues are raised once a week. That’s not nearly good enough. National issues, such as John Howard vs Kevin Rudd and Mal Turnbull’s latest ban are easily covered by Lateline five nights a week and by Insiders for an hour on Sunday morning.  So where do the local issues in Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane get debated? It’s time for the 7.30pm timeslot Monday to Friday to go back to State-based programs serving each state, with the national issues being handled by Lateline, Insiders and programs like Difference of Opinion.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey