Guards hold Djukara (Tysan Towney) in the ABC's Cleverman.

This piece is part of a Crikey Deep Dive series: “What is the ABC For?”. We’re trying to unravel and distill some of the crucial questions the ABC should be asking itself in this post-Guthrie/Milne era.

The ABC matters, we are told, because the national broadcaster is Australia’s “our most important, single cultural institution,” as former chair Jim Spigelman argued in a 2012 speech.

The phrase has been bandied about a lot since the Guthrie-Milne implosion, so it’s worth asking whether the ABC really is as important as the hyperbole assumes.