What Mark Scott admitted as the managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was really what everyone knew anyway: the ABC aims to please the gatekeepers of the pay-checks (which is, after all exactly what we’d expect from most organizations in the long run).
What makes it telling is that he could forget that he’s never supposed to admit this. I mean, they promote themselves in ads as “our ABC”. It’s supposed to serve the people, not the government. The key problem is that although the people pay for the ABC, they don’t hold the purse strings. And to some extent, the people, don’t really try to either. We get what we are willing to put up with.
THE ABC managing director, Mark Scott, has told an audience of film and television producers that the way he had been able to secure additional funding was by convincing the government the national broadcaster was working in its interests.
For a long time, Mr Scott said ABC management had simply gone to Canberra crying poor and telling the government what a great job it was doing.
“And I think if you take that approach, well, then you’ve joined the queue of people who feel hardly done by who are in Canberra with their hand out. And I’m not sure that’s a smart way of getting dollars, frankly,” Mr Scott said.
Wait for it:
“I think you’ve got to couch the arguments in terms of what we are in a unique position to deliver that is in the interests of government of the day,” he said, in an address to the Screen Producers Association of Australia conference in Sydney.
Read it all at the SMH
In order to serve the people, the ABC could be putting government policies under the blow-torch. For a moment, just hypothetically, imagine the government wanted to bring in legislation that would cost billions, be nearly impossible to unwind, would commit the country to pursue inefficient, expensive, underdeveloped technology, make the country uncompetitive, and it was all based on lost data, inexplicable “adjustments”, pronouncements of foreign agencies, and fallacious reasoning, (not to mention being pushed by big banks).
Would the ABC want to point out those flaws? Or is the path-of-least-resistance for the ABC to point the blow-torch elsewhere, and suggest that “since the issue is settled” it could help communicate the “dire need for that legislation”. You know” “Educate the masses”, “Simplify the complexity”, “expose the (other) vested interests” yada yada yada… and the people at the ABC would feel no conflict. They would reason that they were serving the Australian people’s interests as well as the government. After all (repeat after me) “the evidence is overwhelming” and “97% of (government funded) climate scientists say the same thing (and in a spooky parallel) — 97% of government funded public broadcasters repeat the same message of the government funded scientists.
And thus a quasi type of propaganda machine hobbles along. It’s not-created through conspiracy but through systemic misdirected interests, and so it’s imperfect. Some parts of the ABC do great work even as we despair at the conceited and illogical nature of others. For the record, I’ve had two very good radio interviews with ABC presenters in the last 12 months.
The real problem won’t be solved until the funding issue is.
How could we expect the ABC to do anything other than softly pander to government tastes when the government is the gatekeeper for public money and both institutions live off public largess? If anyone knows of a publicly funded major broadcaster with a different funding model (other than solely through the government) please share that example in the comments.
In the end could anyone imagine a publicly funded broadcaster, which is paid by the government, being biased in favour of a small government?
Note the google metadescription of the ABC news site (written by the ABC):
The ABC is Australia’s most trusted, independent source of news.
Other posts I’ve written about the ABC
- Robyn Williams — The evidence? What evidence?
- Robyn Williams shreds the tenets of science
- The ABC — protecting big government from awkward questions