Mar 9, 2018

Inquiry into ABC and SBS on the launch pad, but who’s the target?

A government inquiry into the ABC and SBS is about to start, but it could be the smaller broadcaster that is the real target.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

An inquiry into the competitive neutrality of the national broadcasters is set to commence shortly but the terms of reference, and the real purpose of the inquiry, remain a mystery.

According to Mitch Fifield's Department of Communications, the review -- first announced as part of the government's deal with One Nation senators to pass media ownership reforms last year -- will commence in the next couple of weeks and is expected to take around six months. It will be undertaken by an expert panel, but the terms of reference and format are still being finalised.

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21 thoughts on “Inquiry into ABC and SBS on the launch pad, but who’s the target?

  1. [email protected]

    I tried, I tried to get my mind around the two words ‘competitive neutrality”. I think the left hemisphere was just two competitive for the right as the left led with a left hook and the hook was in the first sentence. Wow what a punchline. To be neutral is to be neutral and uncompetitive., I asked myself the question of just what is “competitive neutrality” as one of the words surely must give up and be a fatality.
    If there is no purpose to the inquiry there is no inquiry and the state of affairs stays neutral.

    1. AR

      Perhaps it is like “change with continuity”, vacuity as value?

    2. Lias

      Totally right, Shrdlu – it is absurd – but no-one in the media seems to pick them up on this, besides Crikey and a few indie media outlets. What is Fairfax and even the Guardian doing? Thank you.

    3. Dog's Breakfast

      You make a great point. It’s doublespeak, I think, this competitive neutrality. I have no idea what it means.

      But I’ll have a guess. “We, the arch capitalists of Australia who have been given public airwaves for free whereas we used to have to pay millions for them, have decided that competition is bad. We would like to continue earning gobs of money while producing utter crap for what used to be captive audiences. Having taken our audiences for granted all these years, we now don’t know how to produce a quality product, and in our arch-capitalist hypocrite ways now call on governments to protect us from ourselves.”


  2. graybul

    SBS already a commercial channel. Their sin is that they are delivering both great programming and; filling every slot with multitudinous advertising.

    ABC simply must be muzzled from offering any comment independent of current government view, belief or policy. [Mission almost complete].

    Overall objectives: Government Rules . . . Corporate Elites protected . . . Power and Riches in trusted hands.

  3. Don

    As much as I can’t stand the commercial networks, it’s clear that SBS had gone far, far beyond its core business. In what way do shows like ‘The Good Fight’ and ‘The Crystal Maze’ reflect multicultural Australia (as the SBS charter requires)? They even fund a podcast where hipsters review episodes of the old Batman show. I support public broadcasting, but SBS’s transformation into a hipster’s paradise reliant on big money US content is not an appropriate way to spend taxpayer money.

    1. AR

      Agree. Tis a shame she’s (become) a whore.

    2. zut alors

      I agree with your stance.

      Nevertheless, Friday night’s double episodes of the original ‘Batman’ are a treat – the unforgettable theme tune in my head as I type – a commercial network would never have run them. Also, Viceland airs edgy docos & alternative news reports which the commercials wouldn’t touch.

  4. cartoonmick

    The self appointed enemies of the ABC SBS will not stop sniping, niggling, rubbishing, whinging, moaning, sneering, nagging, complaining and calling for inquiries, investigations, examinations, budget cuts, program changes, staff revamps, and any other thing they can think of to reduce the effectiveness and quality of the ABC and SBS programs.
    Well, these self appointed enemies can just rack off. The ABC and SBS belong to the people, present far better quality programs than the commercial outlets, and don’t have bias in their news programs.
    But I’m sure the enemies will persist until their agenda is achieved.
    Oh,,,,, you’re not sure what the enemie’s agenda is??? Well, have a look at this cartoon, it’ll give you damn good idea . . . . . . . . . .

  5. AR

    It’s almost as if the intent is to reduce the ABC to Vonnegut’s “Monkey House”.

  6. klewso

    And maybe they’ll take a look into the furtive Fifield’s $30,000,000 “sponsorship” of Rupert’s FUX, to telecast “less popular” sports – that we punters would then have to pay/subscribe to FUX to watch?

  7. pritu

    When will the acts of naked bastardry towards public broadcasting by this faux government end? Election now!

    1. AR

      Not until this faux fux government is tossed out on its fat arse but don’t expect any better from Labor.

  8. zut alors

    ‘…Fifield struggled to explain why the government hadn’t referred the issue to the Productivity Commission’s Competitive Neutrality Complaints Office.’

    It’s a more fraught process to somehow stack the Productivity Commission with former Murdoch schills when the Coalition can simply appoint them to their carefully selected panel. Not to mention setting the tailor-made terms of reference.

  9. old greybearded one

    The commercials could produce something worth watching instead of the shit they produce. There is no commercial current affairs worth the name, no investigative work, a load of garbage for nincompoops (like Fifield perhaps). The ABC and SBS have done some decent issues based drama, good docos and some great satire. The commercials give us: Get me out of here, I’m a viewer, The Kitchen With the Nastiest Language Rules, Married at First Sight (Just shoot me, but them first). The ABC is doing what it should and Murdoch Jnr and that “persistent, interfering villain” (General Sir Henry Rawlinson) Murdoch Snr (ie Keith) have been trying to derail it since the days of Joe Lyons. THough I may turn on SBS with violence if I see another repeat of Michael Portillo in his canary yellow coat.

    1. cartoonmick

      …..and the only thing “real” about those “reality shows” , is that they keep a lot of Australian actors / actresses out of work because the commercial chns won’t produce quality shows which uses our actors / actresses home grown talent. It really has redefined that good old Aussie noun, “Bastards”.

  10. Lias

    Competitive neutrality? Are they serious? What do those words
    that even mean, and they’re having an inquiry into it? What spin doctors had a round – table discussion to select these words? Could we raise Mr Orwell from the grave to explain it? Oh, what the current government has done to the ABC and is doing to SBS is terrible. I don’t know what Michelle Guthrie’s instructions were, and from whom, but whoever they are, they should hang their heads in shame. They won’t, because I suspect they want to destroy/privatise both of these networks, (allegedly).

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