RANALD MACDONALD. Testing times for the ABC with a ‘competitive, neutrality enquiry’.

One of our most trusted institutions is under real threat- and, like Humpty Dumpty, once broken may never be able to be put together again.  

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be expecting strong editorial support from all major and minor commercial media around Australia at the next election.

Under the guise of delivering reform on outdated and restrictive media laws and allowing home grown major media players to compete against the likes of Amazon and Facebook, our PM has delivered what Australian media executive have been lobbying so hard for.

In one of the more laughable comments, News Corps exec. chairman Michael Millar welcomes the “important” passage of the far ranging media package as being a win for regional Australia.

I am not sure how this statement would have been received if one of the Murdoch family had put his name to it.

He could not be claiming Senator Zenaphon $60 million negotiated boost to fund small journalistic enterprises as satisfying the needs of rural and regional Australia, surely?

Anti siphoning changes will boost Pay TV, and profits will rise with no television licensing fees and no limit to agglomeration. The major players will get bigger and, as always, go where the money is leaving the ABC to service by radio and television the needs of country Australia.

And, with it all comes a further assault on that spoiler on profits and ratings for the commercial media; our national broadcasters.

Christmas has come early for American media behemoth, Rupert M, who just needs the British Government to allow him to finally engulf BSkyB for him to achieve enhanced international super power status.

Let us return though to the ABC – a mere pawn in the game of gaining votes in the Senate, particularly from the vindictive Pauline Hanson and (it always pains me to use the nomenclature) her One Nation party.

So the ABC has to be fair and balanced as well as accurate and impartial. I can go with fair but balanced for a news organisation reporting minute by minute is not attainable.

BUT the real sleeper is the Government commitment to the ABC being subject to a “competitive neutrality inquiry”

Again, I think fair-minded observers may feel some limit on promotion through Google and other vehicles for its news and other programs is reasonable.

But the door is open for restrictions on delivery options – despite the ABC Charter specifically allowing it to compete digitally.

Testing times are ahead if the ABC is not to be damaged beyond repair- with a severe dent in our communal rights to be informed and entertained by a diversity of sources

One of our most trusted institutions is under real threat- and, like Humpty Dumpty, once broken may never be able to be put together again.

Ranald Macdonald is a former Managing Director and Editor in Chief of The Age newspaper.  He is an ABC 3LO morning presenter and Friend of the ABC. 

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3 Responses to RANALD MACDONALD. Testing times for the ABC with a ‘competitive, neutrality enquiry’.

  1. Ian Bersten says:

    The results of insidious bias in media reporting is here for all to see – a public that is very misinformed. I se the only remedy is for there to b e a website where all organisations people that have been misrepresented be ablt to make a rebuttal on the media organisations’ website under the heading ‘ RIGHT OF REPLY’. The article is only limited to teh length of the original article.

  2. Jaquix says:

    Murdochs very quick off the mark within a few hours of new “media reform” rushing off to the liquidator of Channel 10 to offer another $20 million for the station! They will be busy plotting and planning much hoovering up of media competition. Thank goodness, so far, this disgraceful government (aided by One Nation, Nick Xenophon and other Lib leaning crossbenchers) has not yet blocked us from the internet, so we can keep in touch without the filter of Murdoch manipulation.

  3. Malcolm Crout says:

    The competitive neutrality issue is a furphy. Essentially the term means that Government businesses shouldn’t compete unfairly with private sector business, but as the ABC is not a revenue generator, how can it compete with the private sector and diminish their profits? Of course, if the ABC is exposing the poor standard of journalism and so reducing the private sector profits die to this issue of poor journalism, then the private sector is free to upgrade the quality of their product offer.

    They won’t because they are essentially lazy and want some more corporate welfare from the Government to keep their share holders happy.

    Murdoch is an odious character who will go down in history for the political interfering he engages in at all levels while holding his hand out to Governments to prop up his private interests like the redundant Foxtel technology. He’s not the only one and quite frankly NXT and the LNP have fallen for the ruse that the internet is taking away revenue – how? Consider for a moment the two majors have a strangle hold on the real estate sites and it’s easy to see their whinging is a smokescreen. Like the major retailers moaning about their costs of bricks and mortar competing with the likes of eBay and the ridiculous application of GST to Ebay transactions, when Woolworths, Harvey Norman and all the other majors use eBay to sell their own products.
    With regard to the SBS, it was Government that required it to produce revenue and it is, so why are they beefing about the public sector heading off the private sector? This is another example of the short memories of the political class when they decry a creature of their own invention!

    Murdoch et al will be rubbing their greedy hands at the prospect of a flurry of takeovers and mergers which will keep the media paper financial boats afloat. It’s not about media, it’s about the financialisation of an industry to generate dividends and to hell with reporting the real news.

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