Australia’s public broadcaster is under public fire. It’s about time.
The rank and file of the Liberal Party voted to sell it off which sparked off a national debate about the value of subsidizing the largest media outlet in the country in an era when the average Australian can broadcast their opinion for free from their own phone. We don’t need a government funded voice, we just need free speech.
Fighting back, the ABC head says Australians think the “ABC is priceless”, so I say: Fine — let those people pay for it.
I’m Pro-Choice on the ABC. Let the people choose which media outlets they want to contribute to. Since the ABC costs $1.1b that’s about $50 per person per annum or $200 per household of four (assuming everyone pays, which they won’t). I say, launch the IPO, sell the shares, or at least, give us the tick-a-box option on our tax return. Make it voluntary.
Stop the forced payments for Big-Government-lovin’ propaganda
We could spell out the actual cost on the tax returns, and ask who wants to pay…
In a democracy this could be done for lots of items — want to send your tax dollars to medical research instead of windmills, or welfare for art? Want to keep your tax dollars so you can employ another Australian? Why not.
Let us vote with our wallet — what could be more democratic?
…Ms Guthrie launched a counter-attack saying the public and media industry was against privatisation.
“I think the public regards the ABC as a priceless asset, more valuable now than ever in its history. I can appreciate that the ABC would fetch a high price in a commercial market. But does the public want a new media organisation that compromises quality and innovation for profit? Does the commercial sector want a new advertising behemoth in its midst? I think not.
Why should a farm hand who doesn’t watch the ABC have to subsidize the Double Bay crowd that do? If the ABC is so loved and respected, why do we have to force Australians to pay for it?
Time to discuss the options
It doesn’t have to be this way. Australians paid the Television License Fee from 1956 until 1974 when Gough Whitlam made it a forced payment. (h/t Jeff) Should we consider the optional tax return “tick-a-box”, or a license fee, or sell it off outright?
I’d rather sell it, but the tax-return option may be more achievable. Though there are risks. There will be heavy social pressure, school indoctrination and advertising for people to tick “yes”, so what will the uptake be? Without any enforcement or punishment, the uptake, despite the ABC’s “pricelessness” may be very low. That would tempt pollies to adopt the British system where everyone with a TV pays regardless of whether they like or use the BBC. The cost is about £150pa and though a quarter of Brits don’t watch the BBC in any given week, as many as 200,000 people get fined each year for the criminal offence of avoiding the fee. If I understand things correctly, the “fee” has the illusion of being optional, but really isn’t. Do Brits have to give up all screens (including their PC, laptop and mobile phone) in order to not pay the BBC? Some “choice”.
The benefit of the tick-a-box tax payment is that it would reorient the ABC towards taxpayers (but only if taxpayers really can opt-out), and provide a slight dampener on their derision and scorn towards taxpaying Deplorables since they may punish the ABC come June 30th.
The ABC might even have to serve the public to keep its funding. What a change!
Let’s make the people the gatekeepers instead of the deep-state bureaucrats and the politicians.
For what it’s worth, there were 12.8million people who filed tax returns in 2013FY.