Feb 7, 2014

ABC efficiency — how well does it stack up against its rivals?

One of the ABC's problems may be that it is too efficient in competing with commercial broadcasters, some of which it outrates consistently, write Crikey commentators Glenn Dyer and Bernard Keane.

If you are going to have an efficiency audit of the ABC, on what basis do you assess its efficiency? Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in his terms of reference hasn’t explained the basis for how former Seven CFO Peter Lewis, who is getting $75,000 for his efforts, will assess the national broadcaster.


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11 thoughts on “ABC efficiency — how well does it stack up against its rivals?

  1. Jason Argo

    “If anything, the ABC is too efficient in the eyes of its competitors”

    And there we have the essence of the problem: how to hamstring the ABC so not-very-good media empires might make more profit

  2. Chris Hartwell

    @Jason Argo – the key seems to be that said not-very-good media empires should be nationalised – they’ll then become more efficient and consequently more competitive.

  3. SusieQ

    And yet we keep hearing how private enterprise does everything so much better!!!! Really???

  4. David Hand

    Benchmarking is close to the most inaccurate and ineffective methods of assessing efficiency of a business or division for all the reasons in your article and then some. So comparisons with commercial media are pointless.

    At best it provides a generalised positioning of a business operation against a group of alternatives. It works better where you can get a direct comparison such as the 5 assembly lines in the world that produce the Camry but even then it’s inaccurate.

    The best way to assess the efficiency of any operation is to study it at the point of implementation where the work is actually done. In this way, opportunities for change can be identified that will deliver a tangible improvement.

    I also believe that in spite of the heartfelt views of the Abbott hating left, an efficiency review has absolutely nothing to do with the ABC’s left wing bias. The matters are unrelated. Even a trimmed down ABC would lean to the left and I don’t have a problem with that.

  5. Electric Lardyland

    Yes, Susie, as I wrote in another post a few days ago, I do think the fact that the ABC widely produces programming, which is demonstrably of a higher quality than much of what is dished up by the commercial networks, is a subtle but constant refutation of the ‘government is the problem, the market is always right’ view of the world. And I suspect that this refutation is something of a psychological motivating factor, for some of the recent strident attacks on the ABC, by many of the more fundamentalist of the rightard commentators.
    Also, when attempting to work out what the value of the ABC is, there are so many intangibles, that it soon becomes a more or less impossible task. For instance, what value do you place on a diverse range of voices being heard? What value do you place on a more factual news service? What value do place on the encouragement given to young musicians by Triple J? Or what value is given to the fact that children are able to watch children’s programming, without being constantly persuaded to buy junk food? Or alternatively, what is the negative value to society, of commercial stations encouraging its consumers to adopt the general attitudes of the tabloid and talkback world, whose main mouthpieces seem to oscillate wildly between arrogant, ill-informed ranting and paranoid, self pitying victimhood?

  6. Malcolm Street

    Lardyland – and what is the value of the incredible job ABC radio 666 did during the Canberra bushfires of 2003? Part of the remit of being a public radio station and a job they performed superbly. I assume it has stepped up the crease for other natural disasters.

  7. AR

    On the figures in paras. 7 & 8, it would seem that Channels 7 & 9, despite slightly higher funding and no radio, local or community responsibilities, can’t compare with ABC TV in quality, scope, specific demographics. I won’t bother to mention IQ.
    Does anyone, even the most monomaniacal rightard, believe that if the ABC didn’t exist the commercials would improve, as exemplified by the special pleading of Mudorcs, James & Lachy when they claimed their poor, struggling hegemon couldn’t compete coz nasty ABC was grabbing all the talent & resources. Not ‘stories’, one notes, as the rubbish they run wouldn’t get under a ABC journos. fingernails.

  8. mikeb

    I have no doubt that this is a preclude to budget cuts which need to be disguised to not look like cuts. Turnbull can come out & say that real funding to the ABC has not been cut because they have identified savings that mean services are unaffected. There will be weasel words & Turnbull himself might not like it, but rest assured – it will happen.

  9. nullifidian

    The argument that the ABC is funded by the taxpayer, whereas the commercial broadcast media are free, has always been a lie. Aside from the direct subsidies listed by Glenn and Bernard, to which we must add tax deductions for advertising budgets, do we really believe that the billions spent by the commercial media cost the person in the street nothing? Do advertising costs, for example, and the handsome financial rewards to those employed in the industry, add nothing to the goods and services that we all consume?

  10. Zarathrusta

    @David Hand hang on, I think the ABC is biased to the right. The only past politician currently on ABC radio is Amanda Vanstone. They used to have Prue Goward as an AM presenter, or RN Breakfast presenter and she ALWAYS followed her script regardless of the facts the interview brought up, she had her story and she was sticking to it. The ABC promotes right wing loonies like Janet Albrechtsen who is on Q&A tomorrow night. In fact the whole panel on Q&A tomorrow is right wing except for the comedian. Insiders gives oxygen to the likes of Piers Ackerman, Niki Savva and RN Breakfast kept quoting the dubious Newspoll instead of the ABC’s own far more comprehensive Vote Compass results in the lead up to the last election.

    Last Friday on the way to work I had to put up with listening to the extreme views of Judith Sloane on life matters. And that’s not to mention any climate change denying anti-science nutcase they can find to provide ‘balance’ in climate change stories instead of giving them the less than 1% of airtime that would correspond to their scientific standing and airing arguments about where in the spectrum from economically dangerous to human survival threatening climate change is which is what the science is discussing.

    If the ABC is biased, its to the right!

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