Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Rupert Murdoch's plan to cripple public broadcasting in Australia is apparently still on track

A secret study of ABC operations has identified $60 million worth of potential savings, a finding the Abbott government will use to justify a new round of cuts to the broadcaster's budget.
Fairfax Media can also reveal the government is considering issuing directions to the ABC and SBS on managing their budgets - a move that would have the government exert greater influence over the broadcasters' operations.
The proposal is contained in the Abbott government's efficiency study into the ABC and SBS, which cherish their operational independence from government.
The government cut the ABC's budget by $35.5 million over four years in the May budget - a cut the government described as a ''downpayment'' on the results of the efficiency study.
The efficiency study, led by former Seven West Media chief financial officer Peter Lewis, says the government could encourage belt-tightening at the broadcasters by issuing a regular Ministerial Statement of Expectations to the ABC and SBS boards.
The study acknowledges the idea is ''controversial'' and could spark concerns the government is intervening in the ABC and SBS for political reasons….
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has insisted any future cuts should affect only back-office operations, not programming. ABC and SBS insiders dispute this and argue many of the study's savings proposals - such as moving SBS in with the ABC - are short-sighted and impossible to implement.
Earlier this month the ABC announced it would axe 80 jobs in its international division following the government's termination of funding for its $223 million Australia Network international broadcasting service.

How the Australian Broadcasting Commission competes with the Murdoch media empire according to Crikey on 3 December 2013:

The full extent of the ABC threat to News Corp isn't clear until you closely examine their competing activities.
First there's television, and the years-long saga of the ABC's Asia Pacific service, a national vanity project costing tens of millions a year, which the Howard government begged Jonathan Shier to take on in 2001. After the ABC began producing a reasonable, if low-cost, service, News coveted it for Sky News (of which News Corp has an interest via its holding in one-third owner BSkyB) to improve its international clout at taxpayer expense and tried twice, in 2005 and 2010, to win it, getting knocked back both times, although for very different reasons the second time around.
Then there's ABC News 24, a direct rival to Sky News itself and to News Corp's half-owned Foxtel, which carries Sky News. News 24 reaches about 14% of metropolitan audiences a week, far ahead of Sky News.
And free-to-air: Lachlan Murdoch's Ten Network has been regularly losing its third spot in the evening television ratings to the ABC. The ABC pointed out yesterday that it had lifted its prime-time share to a 14.6 share, up 1 percentage point from 2012 and the best performance of any free-to-air network this year. Ten's share fell and in fact spent all of 2013 behind the ABC, consigning it to fourth in metro markets, while its regional performance was even worse. ABC management has simply outclassed Lachlan's conga line of executives. The former head of ABC TV, Kim Dalton, was behind the suite of programs that enabled the ABC to have programs that viewers wanted to watch when Ten imploded in August of 2012, and continued to slide this year. Lachlan Murdoch has removed two CEOs and is now on his third in three years. Ten's problems are as much his problems as those of the poor decision making by former management.
Lachlan Murdoch also slashed and burnt the previous Ten management's carefully developed news and current affairs presence, at a time when the ABC was strengthening its position as the most trusted source of news for Australians across radio and television, far ahead of commercial broadcasters and newspapers — with News Corp's increasingly biased mastheads bringing up the rear as Australia's least-trusted newspapers.
"Plainly there are good leaks involving government secrets, which embarrass the ALP, and bad leaks, which make life difficult for the Coalition."
The ABC's online iView service is also a threat. It's now the most popular TV replay source online, and it competes directly, and for free, with Foxtel.
ABC Radio also competes directly with Lachlan's DMG radio stations in each state capital; Nova FM only beats the ABC's metropolitan local stations in Brisbane and Perth. And ABC Radio is planning a development that will not be greeted warmly by News or Ten or DMG Australia. Fairfax won't be happy either. In an email to staff two weeks ago, ABC Radio head Kate Dundas revealed that, among a long list of changes and new ideas, were state-based online news editions planned for 2014, a new e-mag for Radio National, a huge revamp of the Triple J Dig multiplatform, and a second online music stream for Classic FM.
Probably the most important will be the first version of the ABC audio player — the audio equivalent of iView. Podcasts for programs such as Conversations (which attracts hundreds of thousands of listeners a month) and RN programs will move to this new player site. ABC Radio Multiplatform also has a lot planned for 2014, with mobile versions of key sites like ABC Rural, Dig Music and ABC Local news sites.

Commercial television networks have leapt on the release of a Department of Communications research paper into Australian media ownership to renew calls for a relaxation of laws on media mergers and acquisitions.
The Abbott government is considering scrapping media ownership laws, including the law which prevents owners from controlling a newspaper, television station and radio station in the same market.
The release of the 78-page study came as Prime Minister Tony Abbott shared a private dinner with Rupert Murdoch at the News Corporation co-chairman's apartment during a busy schedule of meetings in New York.

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