Another Senate Estimates session brings another culture war attack on the ABC. This time it is the revelation that Government senators are apparently monitoring the Twitter feeds of prominent ABC journalists to see what they “like” and using this information to accuse them of… oh, who knows what, this time?! It’s becoming both tedious and absurd.
This year, Four Corners, the longest-running, most lauded and consequential program in Australian television history, turns 60. But will the ABC pluck up enough courage to throw a party? No doubt the Prime Minister, should he be invited, will send his apologies. Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Prime Minister Scott Morrison.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen Tensions between the ABC and the government have once again boiled over, despite Scott Morrison coming to high office with the best intentions to steer well clear of the ABC controversies his predecessors delighted in stoking.
ABC management has knocked back an upcoming Four Corners episode by prominent journalist Louise Milligan about the relationship between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, a decision that could be seen as an attempt to dampen tensions between the national broadcaster and the federal government.
When he launched his defamation action against the ABC over an article reporting a claim of historical rape against him, Christian Porter boldly indicated he looked forward to going into the witness box to clear his name. His lawyers said: “Mr Porter will have and will exercise the opportunity to give evidence denying these false allegations on oath”. In the event, he never got near the witness box. On Monday Porter settled for an ABC acknowledgement it hadn’t intended to suggest he was guilty, regretted some had read its article that way, and did not contend the accusations against him could be substantiated to a legal standard.
The ABC has doubled down on its defence of the Four Corners article at the centre of a now-defunct defamation case brought by Christian Porter, with the public broadcaster stating it does not regret its reporting and stands by the story. The former attorney general on Monday dropped his high-stakes defamation bid against the ABC, holding a press conference in which he sought to claim he had forced the broadcaster to back down, despite not securing an apology or retraction. Far from ending hostilities between the parties, the deal to drop the case has sparked a fierce war of words between Porter, the ABC and the Four Corners journalist Louise Milligan, who broke the original story. After the ABC agreed to add an editor’s note on its story saying it “regretted” that some readers had “misinterpreted” the article “as an accusation of guilt against Mr Porter”, the former attorney general insisted the public broadcaster had been forced into a “humiliating backdown” and had admitted to regretting the “sensationalist” article. But the ABC hit back, saying it “has not said that it regrets the article” and “stands by the importance of the article”.
The federal government has appointed a former News Corp executive who once proposed a back-office merger of Australia’s two public broadcasters as a new member of the ABC board. Former News Corp and Foxtel boss Peter Tonagh, who led the government’s 2018 ABC and SBS efficiency review, former Seven executive and Australia Post board member Mario D’Orazio, and Fiona Balfour, a former chief information officer at Qantas and Telstra, will join the board. The five-year appointments are effective immediately and put an end to a lengthy process that was scrutinised by the ABC for its delays.
The heavy concentration of media ownership in Australia corrodes democracy. The antidote is a thriving public broadcaster, but by 2023, Coalition cuts to the ABC will add up to $1 billion. Elizabeth Minter reports.
It’s a win for misinformation because since when has News Corp actually printed News or Information. It’s greater impact being the ABC yet again has been locked out providing News Corp and Ch9 with a far larger playing field of bullshit heading into an election ODT
But its bid to limit news content is a double-edged sword. It may save users from some heated debate, but it also leaves the platform wide open to those who wish to spread false information while restricting fact-checked news content. As Liberal MP Craig Kelly showed before being banned from Facebook for a week, he was able to freely promote his views on treatments for COVID-19 and mask wearing that were at odds with official government and medical advice. He is hardly alone.Facebook’s news ban is a win for misinformation
Why is this all happening? Our gutless Government is owned lock stock and barrel by conservative media. Our monopoly mainstream media is jousting with the monopoly social media platforms to gouge whatever they can out of each others’ revenue streams. Without the backing of monopoly level conservative media our current Government would have been chucked out long ago. So no surprise that the Coalition is sucking up to Murdoch. Bit trite for our Government to argue on behalf of Murdoch et al about how their revenue streams are being ripped off by the larger social media platforms, when that same Government is flaying the revenue streams of the ABC.Un-Friending Facebook? – » The Australian Independent Media Network
When Prime Minister Scott Morrison was invited at a recent press conference to condemn far-right conspiracy theories promoted by government members such as George Christensen, he refused. He also defended another Liberal backbencher, Craig Kelly, who has undermined the government’s health message by spreading false information about COVID-19. At the time, Morrison said: “There’s such a thing as freedom of speech in this country and that will continue.”The Morrison government’s two alarming assaults on freedom of speech after spruiking liberty
Zhao Lijian’s tweet was a cheap shot but Scott Morrison’s response could have been more diplomaticDoes Australia really have to be so strident when it comes to China? | Hamish McDonald | Opinion | The Guardian
While the ABC is made to suffer like no other media organisation (ODT)
As FOI documents reveal the extent of Foxtel’s government support, it’s important to remember that Foxtel has always been about haggling for government money.
What we do know, after an extensive freedom of information (FOI) request reported by the ABC on Friday, is that the struggling News Corp-controlled television company gets concierge treatment from the federal government on a scale unavailable to almost any other Australian media organisation.Foxtel’s government begging bowl is brimming with goodies
Dr Fauci said controlling America’s worsening coronavirus outbreak was not impossible but becoming more and more difficult He said lockdowns should only be a last resort But he was hopeful a substantial proportion of the US population would be vaccinated by May next yearAnthony Fauci says working with Trump Administration on the coronavirus pandemic has been ‘very stressful’ – ABC News
Why should Christian Porter be given the benefit of silence when Australians aren’t. Why shouldn’t MP’s practice what they preach and their pasts remembered. The ABC informs us Morrison wants it shut down. So does Rupert.
The Australian’s editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, said on Q&A that Porter was “trashed” by the program, addingWhat’s in the ‘public interest’? Why the ABC is right to cover allegations of inappropriate ministerial conduct
“If the aim of this code is to ensure the viability of Australia’s media, then the Government should ensure ABC is included, that AAP doesn’t fail and that small and independent publishers don’t miss out,” Hanson-Young said.Include the ABC and SBS in media code talks, say the Greens – » The Australian Independent Media Network
Morrison owes Murdoch. This proposed industry code kills two birds with one stone. It pays back Murdoch and ensures a Coalition friendly media.
Couple this with locking the ABC out it’s the equivalent of intended assassination by Novochock and asking who did it?
It rewards the big media players for their failure and throws the smaller media outlets to the lions.
We will lose what little balance is left in our media if the Opposition doesn’t step up.
Morrison and Murdoch take on Google and Facebook
Our Democracy hinged on the ABC and it’s been eroded from outside and in and little is done about it, This alone is a reason to vote the LNP out. (ODT)
For those who watch the affairs of the ABC through the eyes of a critical friend, the removal of Emma Alberici, made public on August 21, is deeply disturbing. It is the climax to a destructive series of events that began more than two years ago and once again draws attention to two serious weaknesses in the ABC’s management arrangements.ABC has for too long been unwilling to push back against interference – at its journalists’ expense
After suffering budget cuts, perhaps it’s time for the ABC to abolish its 24-hour news service which gives politicians an endless platform, writes Jeff Waters.ABC should get political and axe News 24
When a Minister gets that flustered you know a nerve has been hit. (ODT)
The RMIT ABC Fact Check unit, funded jointly between the RMIT University and the ABC, describes itself as an “agenda-free zone” that does not allow staff of the unit to be members of political parties or activist groups.
This truly isn’t even a debate to allw it to become one is to blow smoke into the eyes of the Australian public. Tony Abbott lied in 2013 and the LNP has been doing it ever since with the aid of News Corp and now Ch9 suggesting there’s even a question! (ODT)
The LNP Government pays the ABC less that’s why they don’t need more, But Murdoch gets the $40 mill bonus prize.Seems to me if the ABC isn’t included big tech will just publish the ABC won’t they? (ODT)
Has anyone thought about how would you get a measure of the traded lives when we lock an economy down? What are we sacrificing in terms of lives? Economists have tried to do that and we try to do that in currencies like the value of a statistical life… we are still potentially better off not having an economic lockdown in the first place because of the incredible effects that you see not just in a short-run way but in many years to come.
Fauci and Dan Andrews facing the same opponents
Death to critical thinking it’s too progressive and leads to people from the bottom have second thoughts (ODT)
The emotion-laden headlines read:
- The ABC is a left-wing blob of boring, woke views;
- ABC becoming too right-wing’ following ‘occasional conservative guest;
- The ABC no longer even pretends to be balanced; and
- Forces from within are destroying the ABC.
The notion that “the ABC is too left-wing” seems to be gaining momentum. It appears that News Corp has played a significant role in furthering this narrative.
The national broadcaster has faced savage budget cuts every year since 2013. Its operations are now threatened by further cuts and at least 200 job losses. Dr Martin Hirst discusses whether it’s too late to save the ABC.
We need to get Aunty out of that abusive relationship. Guaranteed funding that the government can’t interfere with is a step in that direction.
Finally, we need to protect the ABC and defend it because privatising it is on the IPA’s “to do” list and they must be stopped at all costs.
As much as the ABC annoys me, I am committed to defending it and fighting for it to have an increased budget. The question is: How do we go about defending the ABC when it won’t defend itself?
The coronavirus emergency has dramatised this. In the US, people have poured into state capitals to demonstrate against pandemic precautions derived from the advice of public health experts. Antivaxxers and conspiracy theorists have been front and centre at the events. Facebook has played a crucial role in allowing the anti-lockdown movement to organise at a local level. And frequently people are coming to state capitols from the same rural areas where newspapers have been supplanted by cable news and partisan websites.
This perfect informational storm has driven the US slightly mad. Its effects have been fractal. Shattered local news ecosystems have made local communities easy prey for ideologues and grifters; at the same time, a polarised national media landscape makes any resolution of the country’s abiding problems difficult to envision.
Now the storm is settling in over Australia.
Mike Seccombe: ‘ It sounds like a marketing slogan, almost a cliché: in times of national crisis, Australians turn to the national broadcaster. But over the past six months or so, it has proved profoundly true.First came the bushfire crisis, when the ABC’s network of regional reporters distinguished themselves not just in reporting the disaster as it unfolded but also warning those in harm’s way. Then came the current coronavirus crisis….
Take the Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, which measure online interaction. In December last year, on the back of its bushfire coverage, the broadcaster surged into second place with a “unique audience” of more than 10 million – passing Nine and just behind news.com.au, which both fell.
By January, the ABC was No. 1 in the country, with an audience of 11.2 million, well ahead of the Murdoch news site. The most recent figures, for March, showed its audience up to 15.2 million, a 53 per cent gain in a single month, and almost three million ahead of its closest rival.
In one sense, this is unsurprising. Innumerable surveys over the decades have shown the ABC to be the most trusted media outlet, and one of the most trusted institutions in the country.
On another level, though, it is remarkable that the ABC has done so well during these particular crises – given that it has been working while grievously wounded. Since the current government came to power in 2014, the broadcaster has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and about 1000 jobs.