Monday, November 07, 2005

ABC spiel for media alliance

For decades starving Aunty has been the policy of a liblab coalition against the ABC. Pollies in power are against feeding a creature with the capacity to bite them both on hand & bum. The ABC’s charter for fearless independence, in news & current affairs especially, underwrites the public transparency, accountability & dissent for which they prefer to pay in lip service.

A cut in funding for our national informer, educator & amuser of around 25% in real terms is part of the draining away of our Commonwealth into the private sector over the last 20 years enabled by both sides of parliament. The result is the gradual decay of both our intellectual/cultural & material/social infrastructures. Think of our universities & the neglect of scientific research. The policy includes giving a fox the charge of Aunty’s chickens, most brazenly in the case of the now privatised Senator Alston.

The ABC is accused of bias & elitism by members & clients of a power elite opposed to public broadcasting in principle as an offence against private enterprise & government by brute market force. For such righteous defenders of FoxNews & CNN the ABC is a vexatious tool of socialist propaganda. Given the vaccuum that was once the ALP, the inquisitorial skills of Kerry O’Brien are more likely to keep a bastard honest than Her Majesty’s loyal opposition. However this phenomenon is beyond the binary bullshit of left & right. Uncomfortable media quizzing is one of our endangered checks & balances against the insolence of power. Any incumbent would prefer to spin soundbites in the talkback world of democracy lite.

I have listened & watched & worked for the ABC for 50 years. I owe it. There is much to grumble about: that it always seems to be run by people with no experience in broadcasting, that it censors itself, that it seems to be under pressure to go commercial, to dumb itself down etc etc but from the Argonauts & cricket on the wireless, through developing Australian drama & comedy, 4 Corners, the Science Show, Triple J, Gardening Australia, Jazztrack…it has nurtured me, supported me, consoled me, a companion in isolation, rural & urban. It is a broad church, it contains & is larger than party politics. It has been a great distributor of cultural goods & services & must be adequately funded to continue & extend as such. I will bang on anything to prevent public broadcasting in Australia whimpering down the American track to impotence & irrelevance.

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