Tips and rumours

Apr 7, 2014

Tips and rumours

Australia Network goes all-out for Abbott's visit, but can it survive? ... Sinodinos gives 'no promises' ... factcheck: Clive Palmer ...

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours … Australia Network all tarted up ... Tony Abbott is touring Asia this week with 600-odd Aussie business chiefs and premiers. He'll visit Japan, Korea and China accompanied by Kerry Stokes, James Packer, Twiggy Forrest, etc. We've heard the visit has set the cat among the pigeons at the ABC-run Australia Network, the government-funded satellite TV channel that beams into Asia and the Pacific. The Coalition government has strongly hinted it wants to take the $20 million annual tender off the ABC, so there's a last-gasp attempt to impress Abbott's delegation. This from a mole:
"In preparation for Abbott's North Asia tour, there is frantic last-minute activity going on amongst increasingly stretched ABC staff working for the Australia Network after word came down from On High that the normally fairly pedestrian viewing fare needs to be somewhat 'massaged' in case he turns on the idiot box and doesn't like the quality of the entertainment. Home and Away has been moved from its previous 6pm slot (Hong Kong time) to be buried safely away at 2pm as from next week. Other shows are being hastily purchased and delivered and prepared for air next week, sometimes without contracts even being finalised, with vastly reduced turnaround time for technical assessment and delivery and the re-making of station promos leading to a somewhat harried mood amongst the minions, all in the largely futile pursuit of second guessing what the right honourable delegation from Australia might want to watch."
We've had a look and yes, Home and Away has been bumped to an earlier slot, while the ABC is going all out with Q and A being filmed in China tonight (to be shown on the Australia Network). We talked to another ABC insider who said there was "a bit of an attempt [from the Australia Network] to see what they can claw back at this stage". The insider said there had been thought devoted to what the large Australian delegation would see on TV in their hotel rooms. But others said the network had been working on new programs for a while. An Australia Network spokesman told us the network "has for some time now, been developing a new schedule" as part of an "overhaul of our international media services". Last week AN launched new "on-air presentation reflecting Australian and regional connections", including David Koch on small business. The spokesman says the new schedule is more focused on news and factual programming, and yes, Home and Away is out of prime time. So were the changes timed to coincide with Abbott's visit? You be the judge. ... but will it survive? It might all come too late. Speculation continues that the government will axe or pare back the Australia Network, perhaps in next month's federal budget (the best place to bury a funding cut). "I’ve been told that DFAT has already engaged a PR-type person to prepare the speeches/media releases etc to announce the international service will be no more," a source told us today. (The government funds the network via the Foreign Affairs Department). We've heard that one live option is that the government could replace the Australia Network with a slimmed down-digital operation with a strong social media element. Australian embassies around the Asia-Pacific were surveyed, and the response was that the Australia Network in its current form was valuable to the Pacific, where there's not a lot of competition, but was drowned out in Asia, where many platforms run 200-odd channels and a network needs a hefty marketing budget to cut through. "You're just lost in Asia," a mole told us. Some within the ABC feel the Coalition government will punish the ABC News Department via cuts to the Australia Network. Sinodinos gives no promises. We were warned. This appears prominently on the rather slick website of Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos, who's stood aside as assistant treasurer to save his best for ICAC  ...

And should Arthur tweak this entry on his list of current roles?

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2 comments

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2 thoughts on “Tips and rumours

  1. The Pav

    Regarding Julie Bishop and her confusions.

    On Insiders when trying to smooth Abbots gaffe in calling Japan an ally which would offend China she said that an ally was really only one you had a defence treaty with and that in Australia’s case that was the USA only via ANZUS.

    Forgive me but isn’t the NZ part of ANZUS for New Zealand and if so is our Foreign Minister dismissing NZ or doesn’t she now about our principal defence treaty?

    Oh well I guess offending NZ is a far lesser gaffe than offending China but being clumsy and uneducated

  2. Tyger Tyger

    ‘“I’ve been told that DFAT has already engaged a PR-type person to prepare the speeches/media releases etc to announce the international service will be no more,” a source told us today.’

    No shortage of money for message massagers, eh.

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