Nine hundred years ago, your correspondent was working for the ABC at the old Gore Hill studios in Sydney -- a sprawling campus of buildings, brick, wood, and iron sheds built when the ABC needed actual studios and to be close to transmitter towers -- when a call came around: the MD (managing director) was to speak! The MD was Jonathan Shier, appointed at the height of the Howard years by a board headed by Donald McDonald*, PM John Howard's arty friend. Shier was a minor UK TV exec, mainly in advertising placement, who had leapt ahead of the pack for new MD by being willing to enact the purge that the Coalition so greatly desired at Aunty.

Once in power, he was hopelessly out of his depth, poor man, unable to comprehend the vast enterprise he had been put in charge of, and particularly at a loss to challenge the News and Current Affairs division, and their deep determination to do news and challenge power and propaganda. Shier hummed and haahed, then convened a nationwide organisation meeting in which he announced, bug-eyed, zombified, shambling across stage, that the seven or so divisions, based on rational categorisation, would be changed into 20 or so arbitrary units ("Drama'"was one, but so was "Demographics and History", and, god knows "Cheese and Lacrosse" -- it was that mad). "Will this work?" I said to a commercial producer sitting next to me, who had read one book in his life, The Thoughts of Nanushka. "Nahhh I'll just go directly to the head of TV. This guy's got eight months left."