Don’t put ads on the ABC

Michael Donohoe writes: Re. “Where is the ABC’s strong union? And could it take advertising?” (yesterday). Peter Isaacson writes: “Is there any valid reason why the ABC should not take advertising to make up the required revenue which would avoid making the staff cuts announced yesterday?” Yes there is a simple and basic reason — advertising would fundamentally change the nature of the ABC. People appear to believe that the ABC is a public version of the commercial broadcasters, but it is not. The customers of the commercial broadcasters are the advertising agencies, and through them the advertisers, the public who listen and watch are the product, the thing that is sold. So ratings are very important, more viewers and listeners the more product to sell, quality and diversity only matter when they affect ratings. The ABC’s “customers” are all Australians — it has a charter that requires it to be independent, and to inform, educate and represent all Australians. Adding a commercial imperative would change and reduce the ABC’s focus on its real customers — all of us.

David McKenzie writes: Well, yes, there’s a reason: if you think News Corp is obsessive about gutting the ABC now, just imagine the explosion if ABC were allowed to compete for the advertising dollar that News, Sky and Lachlan’s poor old Ten Network are chasing (not to mention Fairfax, Seven and Nine). The same goes for the die-hard right-wing calls for ABC to be “privatised”, because of course a privatised ABC will need advertising revenue to support itself and no existing advertising-reliant media wants a new competitor looking for a share of their pie.

Commercial radio serves regional Australia

Joan Warner, CEO, Commercial Radio Australia, writes: Re. “Outbreak of entitlement confuses ABC critics(Wednesday). In the story Bernard Keane incorrectly writes “since regional commercial radio licensees have mostly become networks with minimal local content and few local reporters …”

To say regional commercial radio stations have minimal local content and few local reporters is incorrect.

There are 220 regional commercial radio stations throughout Australia servicing a regional population of 10.7 million people.  These commercial radio stations are integral to local communities around the country, celebrating community success and in times of emergency often the last line of communication to assist in live and local information dissemination.

In addition, part of a regional commercial radio licence requirement is that the vast majority of  local commercial regional radio stations must broadcast significant local content — three hours each business day and most would actually do more.

Unique, live and local content in regional communities across Australia is guaranteed by locally run commercial radio stations providing local news, information and entertainment to millions of Australians every day.

Peter Fray

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