Budget 2018: the clear message behind the government’s ABC cuts


In today’s terms  the ABC funding is the same as it was in 1985 and Corman claims it’s an efficiency measure. The ABC couldn’t be more efficient. So why support the inefficient private opinion sector and news free zone of News Corp et al ? (ODT)

Ostensibly, the competitive neutrality review was payback to Pauline Hanson (and by Hanson) for supporting the changes to media ownership rules last year. But, through The Australian, News Corp has been keen to claim credit, pointing out it came “after media industry leaders demanded a review of the charters outlining the purpose of the ABC and SBS in light of evidence they were ramping up activities that encroached into the commercial sector”.

In proposing a freeze over the three years, Australia is following the lead of the New Zealand National government which froze Radio New Zealand funding for eight years, only relenting with a partial increase last year.

The message is simple: “We’re on your side.” Where “we” is the LNP and “you” is the old media oligopolies. That’s why the message was too urgent to wait until after the election. There’s a message to the ABC in all this as well: leave the emerging digital space to the private sector and, in particular, to the existing private sector players.

Of course, in its digital activities, the ABC is not doing anything that couldn’t be done by the free-to-air broadcasters or Foxtel or pretty much anyone with a computer and a broadband connection. However, the traditional oligopolies seem to have the view that their business model would be fine if people couldn’t access the ABC (or, if there wasn’t so dang much of the ABC to access). In that parallel universe, we’d all keep watching the free-to-air channels (topped up by Foxtel for a bit of diversity), just like we did in the good old days.

Budget 2018: the clear message behind the government’s ABC cuts