I attended Mark Scott’s Commonwealth Broadcasting Association lecture on Wednesday in London and remarkably timely it was too.

While in nearby Broadcasting House, the chairman of the BBC Trust was announcing that the Corporation would be reviewing whether its sheer size and market dominance was hindering rather than helping local broadcasting, Mr Scott was painting a picture of an ABC that was never going to get too big for its boots; that only existed to fill the gaps left by the commercial channels and radio stations; that had achieved a remarkable funding settlement on the basis that its commercial rivals were becoming less and less able to deliver the big local drama and small parish-pump news.

The speech had several references to the fact that the ABC didn’t invest heavily in news or drama because the ABC is “expansionist or ambitious” and that he was glad the ABC avoided the criticism levelled at the BBC because of its scale, power and funding.

As someone used to the irresistible bombast of the BBC, it felt slightly apologetic and fey.

But I think Mark Scott’s ABC might end up inheriting the earth — or the dominant position in the Australian broadcasting world — despite itself.

This era of media plenty and rapidly shifting business models will ensure its success — and almost certainly at the expense of the ABC’s commercial rivals. In his speech, Scott himself told the story of a much-hyped, big budget Australian drama that was pulled after two weeks of poor ratings and replaced with a Gordon Ramsay repeat — the third Ramsay episode on the channel that week. In an era where commercial networks are run by private equity companies and blocks of the schedule are simply inventory to be made at the lowest possible cost and sold at the highest, expensive drama and un-proven Australian formats become harder and harder to commission.

And with Nine possibly close to breaching its debt covenants and Ten owner Canwest lurching from re-payment deadline to repayment deadline, it’s hard not to envisage a time when the government may have to relax the local content rules for commercial broadcasters — just to keep them alive.

In that world, the commercials become purveyors of cheap but popular American imports, have a couple of big mass market overseas formats (TV will remain one of the only media able to deliver a true mass market audience and therefore will be able to charge a premium for those events — the Superbowl Effect) and the rest is Big Sport — still best viewed on a big screen and delivered via a broadcast channel.

Then, as broadband becomes ubiquitous many of those hitherto cheap but high-yield US and UK shows are available via the internet, more pressure is put on audiences and propensity to withdraw into sport and the odd Marquee show accelerates.

All this leaves the field clearer for the ABC to take more of not only the high ground, but the low-lying flats left vacant by the outgoing tide of old-fashioned broadcasting.

As things really pick up pace and the commercials rely more and more on a mass market offering, the ABC’s ‘market square’ approach looks like a real stroke of genius because while the internet is good at allowing you to download Lost or read The New York Times online, the ABC becomes the only place to go for truly local professional content.

Having weaved itself into the fabric of local media consumption, it’s much easier to promote their mass market television offerings — which — by the way — start to look better and better as their programming budgets remain static in a world of downward pressure on commercial costs.

I’d argue it’s already happened in radio and despite Mr Scott’s “don’t mind us gov – we’re just safeguarding the nation’s culture” speech in London, it’s going to happen in television too.

Maybe Mark Scott’s legacy will be ensuring that as media owners, platforms and publishers duke it out in the biggest crisis to hit the media since television began, the ABC really does tip toe quietly through the melee to emerge the victor without anyone else taking a swipe at it along the way.

Adrian Swift is an Australian TV producer and journalist who’s lived in London for the past 10 years.