Showing posts with label public broadcaster. Show all posts
Showing posts with label public broadcaster. Show all posts

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Murdoch has managed to deprive NSW Northern Rivers region of most of its local print newspapers & now Morrison is attacking our most reliable news source, the ABC


The Age, 25 June 2020: 

ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose has lashed out at Communications Minister Paul Fletcher over the Morrison government's handling of its multimillion-dollar budget cuts and accused him of lying about the national broadcaster's efforts to collaborate with SBS. 

In a fresh war of words between the taxpayer-funded broadcaster and the Coalition government, Ms Buttrose has accused Mr Fletcher of twice failing to provide the ABC board and management with the critical data that informed an independent report proposing the closure of two broadcast channels and the sharing of back-office and support services with fellow public broadcaster SBS. 

Ms Buttrose has also said the government misrepresented the ABC's efforts to work closer with SBS. In a strongly-worded letter to Mr Fletcher, seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Buttrose said the ABC's board had asked her to "convey its concerns" about Mr Fletcher's lack of response to correspondence between the pair in September last year. 

"We raised a number of issues but were particularly interested in seeing 'the information - data, models and assumptions - which formed the basis for the savings estimates provided in the report'," Ms Buttrose wrote. "I appreciate you have a busy schedule but we would appreciate an answer to our queries." 

Ms Buttrose said several media reports, which ABC management believes were informed by Mr Fletcher, had suggested the ABC "had neglected to 'collaborate more closely with SBS'". 

"This is incorrect," Ms Buttrose wrote. "David Anderson has had several conversations with SBS about sharing costs". 

A Peter Tonagh-led review of the public broadcasters was handed to the Morrison government in March last year, but its details were kept confidential as the ABC developed plans to cut costs. Some recommendations - such as an increased focus on digital growth, improving the ABC's iview platform and reducing investment in products that are not central to the ABC charter - were effectively adopted in the plan announced yesterday, but an ABC spokesman said that if all had been implemented there would have been more cuts. 

In the September correspondence between the pair, Ms Buttrose said the board said several proposals in the review "lack enough detail to allow an evaluation of whether the suggested savings can be realised". 

"In some cases, the savings estimates are presented in aggregate for the two national broadcasters and it is unclear what proportion of them has been attributed to the ABC, rather than SBS," she said. 

In particular, the review estimates that the national broadcasters could together save "a minimum of $45 million" by reducing multichannel services and "between $80 million and $115 million per annum" through focusing expenditure on what it characterises as "core" activities and a greater focus on digital delivery. 

"However, it provides no information as to how these figures were derived or the proportions attributed to the ABC," she said. Sources said Ms Buttrose had also raised the issue with Mr Fletcher at a face-to-face meeting between the pair at ABC's Ultimo headquarters on Tuesday. 

Mr Fletcher and Prime Minister Scott Morrison staunchly defended the level of funding provided to the ABC, insisting the government has not cut its budget, and backed the national broadcaster's efforts to be more focused on regional and suburban Australia. "There are no cuts ... the ABC's funding is increasing every year," Mr Morrison said on Thursday. "The ABC would be the only media company or organisation in Australia today whose revenue, their funding, is increasing. It would be the only one in the country. We are seeing regional mastheads by commercial newspapers abolished." 

The ABC announced a range of cuts on Wednesday, including 250 job losses and the end of the 7.45am radio news bulletin, in a bid to save $40 million until 2022. Managing director David Anderson also announced plans to cut poor-performing content, reduce episodes of Australian Story and Foreign Correspondent and lease space at the ABC's Sydney headquarters in Ultimo. The measures triggered a wave of criticism about the funding squeeze imposed on the broadcaster by the Coalition in recent federal budgets.

ABC News, 27 June 2020: 

The ABC put forward two separate proposals offering to open more regional Australian studios, expand its coverage of remote communities and hire more journalists in rural areas in return for the federal government dumping its decision to freeze annual funding indexation. 

Correspondence between ABC managing director David Anderson and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, show the national broadcaster was prepared to invest tens of millions of dollars more outside capital city centres if the Morrison government was prepared to reverse its budget cuts. 

In a proposal made after the Black Summer bushfires in January, ABC management told Mr Fletcher the national broadcaster would be able to find $10 million a year to employ more regional journalists if indexation was restored

Mr Anderson's letter, sent to Mr Fletcher on January 24, said he was writing to ask the government to consider a reversal of the indexation pause, which is expected to cost the broadcaster up to $84 million over three years, to safeguard the future sustainability of the ABC. 

"If indexation was restored, combined with savings and efficiencies that the ABC has identified in recent months, the Corporation would be in a position to commit an additional investment of up to $10 million per annum to employ more journalists in regional Australia and generate more content from regions for the local and national stories," Mr Anderson wrote. 

Several government sources have confirmed Mr Fletcher did not reply to the letter, nor did he discuss the proposal with the ABC or his National Party colleagues, who have constantly raised concerns over the future of regional media outlets, following a spate of natural disasters including last summer's fires.... [my yellow highting]

The Saturday Paper, 27 June 2020: 

Two days before the ABC confirmed that up to 250 jobs will be cut across the organisation, the federal government finalised a $200,000 offer for consultants to prepare a report on news and media business models looking specifically at the impact of public broadcasters “on commercial operators”. 

An approach to market for the report was closed on Monday, with the federal Communications Department under minister Paul Fletcher requesting the successful bidder evaluate failed, successful and emerging news media operating models from around the world. 

As it happens, a key requirement of the research, due before the end of August, is also a hobby horse of the ABC’s commercial rivals. 

The tender asks consultants to examine “the role of publicly-funded (non-commercial) media organisations in the production and dissemination of news and media content in the comparable jurisdictions, and the impacts and interactions of publicly-funded entities with commercial operators”. 

This is the argument News Corp makes against the ABC: that it is cutting into the audiences of commercial enterprises such as Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, websites and pay television business. 

“The report will be used as an input to inform policy advice and decision-making in relation to the news and media sectors. The end-users of the report include Commonwealth officials, relevant Ministers, and their staff,” the tender documents say. 

“The report is not intended for public release.”......

BACKGROUND

ABC News, 26 June 2029: 

The ABC has not only helped shape Australia, we are the national voice that unites us. 

It’s about democracy. Without the ABC we would have a balkanised and parochial bunch of broadcasters that are in danger of being compromised by profit and more intent on dividing than unifying. 

Imagine what it would be like during the bushfire season if we had to rely only on state-based or even regionally based media outlets. When we are in the middle of bushfires, don’t we want to know that they are being covered by a knowledgeable and experienced network of journalists with all the supporting infrastructure of a large national network? 

The ABC, funded by all of us, regardless of our creed – race, age, political beliefs – is us. It’s the way we build cross-cultural understanding, the way we help each other in times of need. It’s who we are collectively. Why would anyone want to diminish that and make us less than who we are? 

This has been a devastating week for the ABC. With unemployment at an all-time high to have to inform up to 250 people they no longer had a job has been an incredibly difficult task. 

Cuts to services caused by the ongoing reduction in our budget forced this action upon us and although we knew what had to be done, our hearts were with our employees. 

Let me clarify the cuts because there seems to be some confusion in Government circles about them. The 2018 Budget papers clearly state that the Government’s savings measures reduce funding to the ABC by $14.623 million in 2019-20, $27.842 million in 2020-21, and $41.284 million in 2021-22. This reduction totals $83.75 million on our operational base. 

It is true that over the three years the ABC budget does still increase but by a reduced amount, due to indexation on the fixed cost of transmission and distribution services. Previously, it was rising by a further $83.75 million over the same three years for indexation on our operational base. This is the funding that has been cut and considered a saving by the government. 

These funding cuts are unsustainable if we are to provide the media services that Australians expect of us. Indexation must be renewed. 

The strength of the ABC and its relationship with the nation comes from the very people who work for us. They are passionate about public broadcasting and are prepared to work for less than they would be paid by commercial media to deliver it. The creativity in the programs they produce, the dogged and independent journalism they pursue and the connection with communities everywhere they provide through conversations is at the very heart of what the ABC delivers to our audiences. 

The ABC has a statutory requirement to operate as efficiently as possible. We have a strong track record in identifying savings and reinvesting them in services. This is how we created ABC News 24, ABC iview and a range of packages to boost services in rural and regional Australia. 

There is no other authority better placed to manage the ABC than the ABC itself. We know our business and we are determined to honour our commitment to independence. All Australians expect this of us just as they expect the Government to provide the appropriate funds to allow us to do so. 

The ABC is essential in generating and preserving Australia’s democratic culture. An independent, well-funded national broadcaster allows Australians, wherever they live, to connect. It is how we share our identity, how we tell our stories, how we listen to each other, how we ask for help and how we give it. 

 Ita Buttrose AC OBE 
 ABC Chair

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Quote of the Week


“We have done our best to convince the Government to reverse the indexation freeze...We've done our best to find efficiencies without affecting content, but we have said all along, since this (freeze) was announced in 2018, that after successive budget reductions to the ABC, there's only so much that can be gained through efficiency and in the end, content will be affected, and we've seen that roll out yesterday.”  [ABC managing director David Anderson, in The West Australian, 25 June 2020]

Thursday, 25 October 2018

OUR ABC: the fate of public broadcasting is in your hands at the 2019 federal election


Use your vote wisely.......

abc.net.au, 23 October 2018:

Statement by David Anderson, Acting Managing Director of the ABC, to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee 

Thank you Senators. 

I am appearing today as Acting Managing Director of the ABC. It is a privilege to be in this role, overseeing one of Australia’s most loved and respected cultural institutions. 

There is no doubt Senators will have many questions about recent events and strategies. I will do my best to answer them in my acting capacity and from my management position. Accountability is part and parcel of being a national broadcaster. 

So too is independence. I have already stressed in my early conversations with employees that the great faith and trust the community invests in the ABC is built on the foundation of independence. 

The ABC is funded by government and it is ultimately answerable to the people of Australia. They are the ones who expect us to report without fear or favour, to live up to standards of quality and excellence, to shun commercial and other agendas, to hold the national conversations and to reflect the nation back to itself. 

The other absolute I have, as a long-term content manager within the Corporation, is the primacy of content. Across the ABC’s history we have been adept at using technology to improve the ways we bring our programs and services to our audiences. 

Even in my time at the national broadcaster, the distribution platforms and channels we use have changed dramatically. They will need to change even more over the next decade as we seek relevance and reach in a challenging digital media landscape. 

But it is the content that we carry on those platforms that ultimately matters. 

 Vibrant new kids’ programs that delight and educate our children; 

 Agenda-setting journalism that shines a light into dark corners and holds regulators and lawmakers to account; 

 The rich, direct and often lifesaving conversations we have with our regional and rural audiences; 

 The insightful work of Radio National; 

 Our commitment to the promotion and support of cultural endeavours, particularly music, the arts and creative communities; 

 Colourful dramas like Mystery Road that use local actors, local crews, local locations and local stories to entertain us; 

 And our ability to unite the nation, whether it be on Australia Day, the approaching Remembrance Day/Armistice celebrations or through our in-depth coverage of the drought; 

 And this week, of course, the Invictus Games. 

It is the distinctive content that makes the ABC unique and a priceless national asset. 

While the recent weeks have been testing, I am very proud of the passion and energy shown by our 4000 employees. They have not been distracted. They remain committed to serving Australians. 

As the Acting Managing Director, my early objective has been to work with the Board, bring stability to the organisation, demonstrate leadership and to press for the resourcing we need to deliver the Charter remit and the services the community expects. 

I note there has been a lot of talk recently about ABC budgets and future demands. I would like to bring these facts to the table: 

 20 per cent of the ABC Budget is actually fixed costs for transmission – the infrastructure that delivers our programs to audiences across the nation. 

 The $84 million efficiency cut over three years comes on top of the 2014 decision to cut the ABC budget by $250 million over five years. The cumulative impact of these measures is a significant reduction in our operating budget at a time when we are facing rising costs of production and the need to increase our investment in digital products. 

 We have been given no certainty about the future of funding for a program that directly employs 81 journalists, including specialist reporters and outer suburban bureaus such as Geelong, Parramatta and Ipswich. 

As a long-serving content manager and leader, I can personally attest to the financial pressures affecting the Corporation. I can vouch for the efforts of management to maximise every dollar spent on audiences and to plough efficiency savings into content. 

I am making it clear to stakeholders that the next triennial funding round, scheduled for resolution in next year’s Budget, should be used as an opportunity to reposition the ABC for the future. 

If the ABC is important now in bringing diversity to the media landscape, then it will be even more essential over coming years in providing quality, independent, local content to Australians. The ABC will be the innovator. We will provide the creative jobs that are necessary for this new era. We will continue to provide the highest quality independent journalism. 

Thank you. I am happy to take questions.

Twitter, 24 October 2018:







Thursday, 27 September 2018

Who was it that told ABC Chairman Justin Milne that the public broadcaster would be denied funding if it didn’t remove journalists that federal government ministers wanted silenced?



On 24 September 2018 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) board announced the sacking of Managing Director Michelle Guthrie, stating “it was not in the best interests of the ABC for Ms Guthrie to continue to lead the organisation”.

By 27 September the facts began this statement had emerged. 

These showed political appointee to the ABC board chairmanship, Justin Milne, in a less than attractive light.

Having now been caught out acting as a heavy-handed surrogate for the Liberal-Nationals Federal Government, this very same government is reportedly now pressuring Milne to resign ahead of the 20 October Wentworth by-election to save it further embarrassing revelations.

This is how the matter is playing out in the media…….

9 News, 26 September 2018:

Political pressure is mounting on the ABC chair Justin Milne after revelations he ordered sacked managing director Michelle Guthrie to get rid of a senior presenter because the Turnbull Government "hates her".

The instruction to sack Emma Alberici came in an email from Mr Milne to Ms Guthrie in May, Fairfax Media reported. 

"They [the government] hate her," Mr Milne wrote. "We are tarred with her brush. I think it's simple. Get rid of her. We need to save the ABC - not Emma. There is no guarantee they [the coalition] will lose the next election."

The comments were circulated to members of the ABC board a week before Ms Guthrie was sacked on Monday.

Malcolm Turnbull sent a list of concerns to ABC news director Gaven Morris about Ms Alberici's coverage of the government in May.

The Guardian, 26 September 2018:

The ABC chairman, Justin Milne, vehemently opposed moving the Hottest 100 away from Australia Day and tried to convince the ABC board to reverse the Triple J decision, saying “Malcolm [Turnbull] will go ballistic”, Guardian Australia has been told.

Multiple sources have said that the former managing director Michelle Guthrie supported the Triple J decision, which was taken after a year’s consultation, and convinced the board not to bow to pressure from the government.

There was huge pressure on the ABC because the communications minister, Mitch Fifield, had asked the ABC board to reconsider the decision to move the Triple J Hottest 100 from Australia Day because it was “making a political statement” by taking an action that would “help to delegitimise Australia Day”.

Milne was also opposed to Guthrie’s handling of the ABC’s Tonightly sketch in which they used the word “cunt” when highlighting the racist past of the grazier John Batman.

In a skit aired in March, a candidate for Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives party, Kevin Bailey, was lampooned about the name of the electorate of Batman.

Milne was furious and adamant that Tonightly presenter Tom Ballard should immediately apologise for the sketch on the program, but Guthrie insisted that the ABC’s internal complaints process run its due course.

The ABC’s internal complaints unit and the Australian Communications and Media Authority cleared the Tonightly sketch.

“Michelle was always saying we should back our artists and staff but Justin was always interfering and saying this will annoy the government,” a source close to the board said.

“Michelle stood up to Milne when he tried to interfere with management decisions. He believe Emma Alberici should be sacked and the top 100 should not be moved.”

Financial Review, 26 September 2018:

ABC chairman Justin Milne asked former managing director Michelle Guthrie to take action against two ABC journalists, political reporter Andrew Probyn and radio broadcaster Jon Faine, who had upset the government, according to a source familiar with the conversations.

The complaints about the two high-profile journalists were made verbally, and followed Mr Faine's clashes with a government minister and coverage that upset the Coalition by Mr Probyn, the source said.

The Guardian, 26 September 2018:

Another source said: “He [Milne] would intervene by contacting an executive and, not long after, a formal complaint would come in from minister’s office.

“He also referred to former ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie as ‘the missus’.”

The New Daily, 26 September 2018:

The Scott Morrison government and the ABC board are moving to pressure ABC chairman Justin Milne to resign as soon as possible.

Mr Milne has refused to budge after a leaked email has been widely viewed as direct evidence of a breach of his director duties under the ABC Act.

But overnight there was another leak to The Daily Telegraph – an ABC board document in which sacked managing director Michelle Guthrie alleges Mr Milne ordered her to fire political editor Andrew Probyn. “You have to shoot him”, The Telegraph reported the document as saying, because former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull “hated” Mr Probyn. The exchange was said to have occurred in a telephone conversation on June 15.

“He told me I was putting the future of the ABC at risk as we are asking the government for half a billion dollars for Jetstream and we won’t get it unless I do what I’m told,” The Telegraph reported the leaked Guthrie document said.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September 2018:

Turnbull, a former journalist who knows how errors of fact or judgment can infect a journalist's copy, might have tried negotiating directly with Alberici before reaching for the official complaints switch, and he might have respected the ABC's actions to correct matters of fact after the ABC's independent complaints review department had investigated.

Instead, by exerting his clout at high levels within the broadcaster, it appeared to anyone who cared to look that the old business of serially intimidating the ABC, which relies on government funding, had reached peak velocity.

In turn, Milne, a former business partner of Turnbull and thus requiring considerable steadiness to prevent being accused of bearing a conflict, lost all sense of proportion at the sound of shot.

No cool-headed chairmanship here: apparently infected by hysteria, he waved his own sword. "Get rid of her. We need to save the ABC - not Emma."

No-one has yet answered the burning question; Who was it that told Justin Milne that the ABC would be denied funding if it didn’t remove journalists that Liberal-Nationals federal government ministers wanted silenced?

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.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The BBC getting it right on climate change reporting and comment



The coverage of science by the BBC continues to be a hotly debated issue. One of the key findings of the report which still resonates today is that there is at times an:

  “… ‘over-rigid’ (as Professor Jones described it) application of the Editorial Guidelines on impartiality in relation to science coverage, which fails to take into account what he regards as the ‘non-contentious’ nature of some stories and the need to avoid giving ‘undue attention to marginal opinion’. Professor Jones cites … the existence of man-made climate change as [an] example of this point.”

This is a matter of training and ongoing shared editorial judgement. The Trust notes that seminars continue to take place and that nearly 200 senior staff have attended workshops which set out that impartiality in science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views, but depends on the varying degree of prominence (due weight) such views should be given.

The Trust wishes to emphasise the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences. The Trust also would like to reiterate that, as it said in 2011, “This does not mean that critical opinion should be excluded. Nor does it mean that scientific research shouldn’t be properly scrutinised.” The BBC has a duty to reflect the weight of scientific agreement but it should also reflect the existence of critical views appropriately. Audiences should be able to understand from the context and clarity of the BBC’s output what weight to give to critical voices.

The BBC has developed excellence in science broadcasting, and generalists who may be unfamiliar with these areas and where the weight of scientific agreement may lie should make the most of the resources of the BBC – for example its Science Editor, the BBC’s science experts and the workshops and seminars discussed in the Executive report.
Judging the weight of scientific agreement correctly will mean that the BBC avoids the ‘false balance’ between fact and opinion identified by Professor Jones. The Trust welcomes the Executive’s decision to hold a further course this year for staff who may not have been in position at the time of the previous workshops and as a refresher on a complex area.