Having satisfactorily completed its role in the dispatch of a prime minister last week, News Limited has redirected its firepower towards another pesky adversary — the left-leaning, incompetent, over-funded ABC and its soon-to-be-launched 24-hour TV news channel.

In its main editorial today, The Australian lays into the ABC’s coverage of the Rudd downfall as the reason to ask “why the ABC should be allowed to take on another taxpayer-funded channel when the corporation plainly cannot manage the ones it already has

Meanwhile, on the opposite page, the paper’s Janet Albrechtsen has also unleashed on the ABC’s forthcoming news channel. Under the heading ‘Sky shames the ABC’, she asks whether the ABC “has the energy and team spirit that kicks in so readily at its poor cable cousin at Sky?”

No mention, in either of these attacks, of News Corp’s commercial interests — of its stake in Sky News or of its aggressive behind-the-scenes lobbying for Sky to take over the government-funded Australia Network, which beams Australian TV into the Asia-Pacific region and is currently run by the ABC.

What we are watching here is a powerful organisation deploying its journalism to pressure a government into bowing to its commercial agenda, not coincidentally at a time when the government is heading towards an election and needs all the supportive tabloid media coverage it can get.

The ABC is too important to Australia to be kicked around as a pawn in a power game designed to bully the federal government into toeing the News Limited line.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey