Common sense has finally prevailed. The contract to provide Australia’s government financed international television service has finally been awarded to the state owned ABC. As Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said in announcing the decision,  the service to provide a major public diplomacy platform to the region should be delivered by the national broadcaster. The Australia Network was the nation’s equivalent of the UK’s BBC World Service and Germany’s Deutsche Welle.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has been given a deserved one up the bracket. It was only at his insistence that tenders were originally called for to provide the service. That was nothing more than an attempt by Rudd to curry favour with the Murdoch dominated Sky TV.

In his statement tonight Senator Conroy said the government had hoped the tender for the network would have been completed in good faith.

“However, several leaks have compromised the process and prevented a fair consideration of the bids.

“The government believes it is unfortunate that this process did not reach a satisfactory solution, however, in light of the circumstances it is now in the national interest to make a clear decision about the future of the service rather than allowing uncertainty to continue.

“Having reflected upon the process to date, and what the service really needs to provide, the government has determined that Australia’s international broadcasting service should be delivered by the national broadcaster.”

AAP reports Senator Conroy saying the decision would give the ABC certainty with the job of broadcasting the network to the Asian region.

“The ABC has been performing well in the role and the government believes that the national broadcaster will maintain and further enhance the Australia Network in the years ahead.

“The government also believes that the ABC is well placed to explore the opportunity to combine the Australia Network with its current international radio service, Radio Australia, and potentially with new online services to provide a multi-platform international media operation to embrace the converged media era.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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