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ABC bias against coal hurts the poor and the workers: Sell the ABC

Posted By Joanne Nova On August 11, 2014 @ 7:14 pm In Global Warming,Media-matters | Comments Disabled

A new report shows ABC journalists are fond of renewables and overlook their dismal economic value, while putting out bad news on coal, and ignoring the benefits of vast cheap profitable energy. Who could have seen that coming: a large public funded institution attracts employees who like large public funding?

The IPA arranged for a media analysis firm to compare the ABC reporting on coal and renewables.

ABC gives the green light to renewables, and the red light to Australia’s largest export industry and provider of 75% of our electricity.

ABC accused of bias against coalmining

Andrew Fraser, The Australian

The analysis of 2359 reports broadcast on the ABC over six months before March 15 this year found 15.9 per cent of stories on coalmining and 12.1 per cent of those about coal-seam gas mining were favourable, while 53 per cent of those on renewable energy were favourable.

It also found 31.6 per cent of stories on coal mining and 43.6 per cent of stories on coal-seam gas were unfavourable, while only 10.8 per cent of stories on renewable energy were ­unfavourable.

The ABC has become its own best case for privatizing the ABC. How much could we get? The funds from its sale, and the savings of the $1.25 billion it costs annually, would help to pay down the massive debt left by the Rudd-Gillard government.  The real benefits could be much much higher. The ABC has become an advertising agency for any group dependent on public funding. Without the constant one-sided promotion of wasteful spending, Australian policy might shift towards self sufficient entrepreneurs instead of rent-seekers. How many countless billions is that worth?

The economic situation of renewables and coal is blindingly obvious:

Brown and Black coal provide electricity in Australia at less than 4c /KWhr, while Solar costs nearly 20c.  Figures thanks to Alan Moran: Submission to the Renewable Energy Target Review Panel, IPA, 2014

 

Australian energy generation, coal, oil, gas, renewables, hydro, biomass.To put a perspective on it, coal is Australia’s largest exporter industry, producing 33% of our energy and a whopping 75% of our electricity. (Wind and solar produce all of 1%.) The coal industry provides the ABC with funds, via tax, while the wind and solar industries are a net drain on the public purse. The cheapest way to reduce CO2 (and by a whopping 15%) looks like being an upgrade for our coal fired plants so they are like the hot new Chinese plants. But how important is reducing CO2 to the ABC? Apparently it’s not quite as important as cheering on other big-government babies.

We can debate the environmental pluses and minuses of coal, but the economic case is a lay down misere. Renewables are anywhere from 200% to 500% more expensive.

Here’s the ABC view of the economic contribution of coal to Australia.

Chart 4: How the ABC depicts the economic impact of the coal industry

The renewables industry on the other hand makes expensive electricity, which punishes the lower income earners and makes everything from health, to education to organic hemp hairshirts more expensive. Higher energy costs makes it harder for employers to employ people.

Because renewables are awful for the poor and reduce jobs for workers, we can expect the ABC will leave no stone unturned in accurately reporting the economic effect of renewables. Or not…

Chart 9: How the ABC depicts the economic impact of the renewable
energy industry

In a sane world we could expect a broadcaster serving the people  to relentlessly pursue poor government decisions — like, say, a plan to buy overpriced energy in the hope of changing global weather.

Here’s how the ABC portrays this pointless burden on the Australian taxpayer (the green bar represents how much the ABC promotes it, the red bar represents the value of the ABC as a watchdog on waste):

Chart 10: How the ABC depicts government programs which subsidise
renewable energy and restrict non-renewable energy

Forcing the public to fund the ABC doesn’t work

The evidence suggests the ABC serves the God of Big-Government rather than the Australian people. Here’s a radical idea — lets return some accountability and give the public a choice on funding the ABC. Then the ABC might serve the public instead of serving themselves.

James Paterson from the IPA says, in the report  Aunty Out of Control:

There’s only one way to fix the ABC, and that is by privatising it. Everything else is window dressing.

If the ABC wants to be reformed, they are doing everything in their power to make it happen.

Over 80% of the ABC staff vote green-left, as the Folker Hanusch study showed last year. Obviously that political bias does not represent Australian voters:

The only major survey of ABC staff political views, conducted by a University of Sunshine Coast academic and released in May 2013, found that 41.2 per cent said they vote Green, 32.4 per cent Labor and just 14.7 per cent for the Coalition-starkly out of step with the broader population, and much more tilted to the left than both Fairfax and News Limited. -- James Paterson Aunty Out of Control.

The bias is obvious to anyone reading alternative views on the Internet. Three times as many Australians think the ABC has a pro-Labor bias.

The coalition government can’t cut funding to the ABC, thanks to its commitments prior to the election. But surely there are alternatives. Let’s get creative: could the ABC be split into two, with half going to conservative commentators and reporters, and the other half going to the current management? It’s the stereo version: ABC-Left and ABC-Right. They could both “media-watch” each other – and may the best team win.

REFERENCES:

Public broadcaster or green activist? How the ABC spins Australias energy choices, Institute of Public Affairs, August 2014

Independent report reveals ABC biased against fossil fuels (IPA Press release)

 

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