Dear Crikey, Mark Scott and Senator Conroy,

Yet again the Aunty Senior Executives are running up the overseas travel junkets. While we cannot afford any new programs or production staff (as you know we produce less local content than the quotas that apply to the commercial networks), we continue to send the senior executives on unnecessary and overpriced overseas junkets.

There had been hope that our new MD, Mark Scott, would stop this having come from a media journalist background — but the latest junket to the International Broadcasting Conference in Amsterdam this September is staggering.

The ABC has completed all the decision making in its digital technical upgrades with almost all thee gear now installed under the Federal Governments Digital Phase 1 (SD) and Digital Phase 2 (HD), yet the junkets continue.

Despite the fact that there is a much cheaper and closer conference in Asia called Broadcast Asia every year where all the major equipment suppliers are represented or the Sydney based SMPTE Conference — but they still all go to the most expensive exhibition in the world, IBC. Of course going to IBC also includes the required side trip to London to have tea with the BBC and the guys at the London ABC bureau.

So who is going? Well the rumour mill says the team will include:

Chief Operating Officer — David Pendleton and mate of the previous MD.
Director of Production Resources — David Cruttenden, mate of and works for David Pendleton and is a serial attendee every year!
Plus, I am told, the Acting Director of Technology and Head of Transmission.

The costs; well they will only stay at five star hotels and fly full fare business class, so based on last years costs, per person it will approximately cost:

Airfares (business): $12,000
Accomodation (five star): $8,000
Registration $3000 to $4500
Expenses: $2000

Which equals $25,000 per attendee!

Thus total cost of around $100,000 for a free European Getaway! So much for a cash strapped ABC! Senator Conroy promised to stop this public broadcaster when in opposition, how about stopping this Senator — and put the $100,000 to production — in radio it could fund a whole new internet station.

And Mark Scott, how about it? Please, please, live up to your promise to staff to put the dollars into program making instead of this blatant waste of tax payers’ money. Do all your staff a favour — cancel these wasted technology junkets and send your executive to next year’s SMPTE Conference and Exhibition in June 2009. I am sure nine months delay will not be a problem.

Nobody minds OS trips for productions and news — just the waste of money on executive junkets. And what about the frequent flyer points these guys accrue — which the ABC doesn’t require them to use — amazing given all the senior executives proudly display their Platinum Frequent Flyer Membership labels of their briefcases!

Yours sincerely and on behalf of the few remaining production staff,

David (please excuse me not using my real name, I am sure you understand).

Peter Fray

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