May 21, 2014

A hard landing for the ABC’s version of soft diplomacy

Cutting funding and abandoning the Australia Network attacks the ABC's international role via the back door, argues Rodney Tiffen at Inside Story.

The Australia Network, the ABC’s international television service, has been in the Coalition’s sights — and, not coincidentally, in the Murdoch press’ sights — since 2011. That was when the Gillard government awarded the ABC a 10-year contract to deliver international TV, bringing a definitive conclusion to a ludicrously mismanaged tender process.

So it came as no surprise when the Abbott government axed the network in the budget. The decision came despite the fact that the ABC Act requires the national broadcaster to transmit news, current affairs, entertainment and cultural programs “to countries outside Australia” in order to “encourage awareness of Australia and an international understanding of Australian attitudes on world affairs” and “enable Australian citizens living or travelling outside Australia to obtain information about Australian affairs and Australian attitudes on world affairs”.

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9 thoughts on “A hard landing for the ABC’s version of soft diplomacy

  1. Yclept

    But at least Rupert’s happy!

  2. Graeski

    Yet one more item that proves that Australia is no longer a democracy: it is an oligarchy, and a right-wing one at that.

  3. Scott

    SkyNews is owned by the following Companies

    BSkyB 33%
    Nine 33%
    Seven West media 33%

    20th Century Fox owns 40% of BSkyB (has 4 directors in their pocket out of 17).

    So it’s hardly a gift just to Rupert.

    But hey, don’t let the truth stop the Anti- News Corp agenda here on crikey

  4. Jimmy

    Scott – You are right – it isn’t just a gift to Rupert (although with 13.2% ownership is still is A gift to Rupert) that other battler and right wing sympathiser Kerry Stokes also gets his cut.

    I think the argeument that this decision isn’t looking after Rupert for all his hard work in story management before and after the election simply because other right wing billionaires benefit as well is a little bit of a stretch.

  5. green-orange

    ATVI was simply there to demonstrate the abilities of the now long defunct AUSSAT satellite system. DFAT never really wanted it, preferring radio because it delivered to the people it wanted to reach (those in remote areas who might support communism).

    Rudd attempted to dump the service, and the private media saw it as an handy source of revenue to trim up their sagging financial performance at the time.

  6. Vincent O'Donnell

    Two points and a surmise:

    First, Sky News is owned in equal parts by British Sky Broadcasting, Seven Media Group and Nine Entertainment Co. not just Seven and BSkyB. In July 2011, News Corp. owned 39.1% of British Sky Broadcasting. Rupert Murdoch’s interest in Sky News is limited and easy to overplay. But certainly, the rent-a-crowd at The Australia have been very vocal, trying to shape Coalition policy.

    Second, having watched the Australia Network in Asia, I tend to the critique that the Australia Network lacks the careful programming and regular news and current affairs offerings of services like Deutsche Welle or the BBC, both of which are very slick.

    However, they are also repetitive, the Australia Network less so. In consequence, it may hold audiences longer than the European services, probably a good thing.

    There is a saying in advertising that four out of five dollars spent are wasted. The Australia Network is national advertising for Australia political and economic interests. It seems certain parties in Canberra are wiser than all of us and know, for certain, which is the dollar doing all the work.

  7. The Pav

    Scott,,,It is a bigger gift to Rupert as it now assists his business ambitions in China…The Liberals have kept one promise at least…They have rewarded News Ltd for their support

  8. zut alors

    Agree with The Pav.

    The Abbott govt has also severely compromised the NBN – effectively safeguarding Murdoch’s Australian cable empire. His rewards came quickly following September 2013.

  9. Scott

    Somehow I don’t think Rupert is popping champagne corks thinking, yes, now that the Australian Network is out of the way, I can rule the Chinese airwaves. Besides, he sold his stake in Star china at the beginning of this year after trying to compete against CCTV for a few years with ordinary results. No one wins against the communists.
    I think if the government removed the media cross ownership laws, that would be a better reward.

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