It’s a question most Australians think they can answer.

Not only do most of us have an answer to that question, we can provide details — the programs, channels, platforms and even personalities — to support our views.

The problem is there is no definitive answer about the purpose, role and priorities of the ABC. There are only individual views, including the views of the ABC board, the government of the day, the culture and media sectors, ABC staff and the ABC audience. This is because the ABC operates under a charter that is vague, general, unspecific, out-dated and based almost entirely on subjective interpretation — and it makes the public broadcaster vulnerable to politically motivated attack.

Today in Crikey we begin an ongoing series seeking to answer that question. We’ll be asking journalists, politicians, academics and public figures to weigh in — and we want to hear your thoughts, too.

Today Crikey chairman Eric Beecher kicks off the conversation with some tough questions for the public broadcaster, while politics editor Bernard Keane has the breakdown of how the ABC spends its cash.

Why does the ABC exist?

Until the ABC or the government can answer that question — definitively and in detail — every discussion about the ABC budget is a waste of time.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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