Please Leave My Aunty Alone Mr Murdoch

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The alarm at 6am every morning awakens me to the ABC news. It has been that way for as long as I can remember. Before I retired I listened to AM on my way to work. I have an ipad now and what a remarkable instrument of technology it is. I read what attracts me on the ABC web site. Then I paste a couple of thoughts into Facebook, peruse THE AIMN and other blogs. Lastly I do a quick headline appraisal of the Fairfax, Murdoch press and some American sites.

My wife and I are avid viewers of the ABC. On the political front we watch Insiders, Media Watch, Q&A, 7.30 and The Drum. For News we are in the habit of watching Channel 10 5PM nightly news before switching to The Drum, ABC news at 7 and then 7.30.

From that you might conclude that I am biased toward the ABC. You would be correct. I am attracted to a lot of other ABC programs. There are flirtations with other channels such as Sevens Sunday News and programs that feature music or entertainment in particular.

I am attracted to the ABC for two reasons. Firstly in relation to News and Current Affairs it is unsurpassed. Be it the written word or visual media. Secondly their programing (in the main) avoids an American influence. I might even be the only Australian who has never watched an American sit com. I have been part of and watched the Americanisation of Australia all my life and frankly I detest it.

Oh sorry, there is a third. It’s called, an alternative. Let’s take a look at them. In my news reading my alternative is either the Murdoch Press or Fairfax. I was once an avid reader of The Age. Even to the point where to miss a day would result in me thinking that my day had been greatly devalued. It is no longer the world class paper it was. With writers like Henderson, Costello and Vanstone and the influence of the large lady, it has taken a turn to the right. The Herald Sun is Australia’s largest selling newspaper but to call it a newspaper is tantamount to calling a toilet roll a glossy magazine. Their top 10 stories usually includes 6 of a sporting nature.

Personally I think that all Murdoch newspapers are where the truth goes to die.

Similarly the visual media offers very little in quality balanced Current Affairs. There is Meet the Press (A News Ltd production.) Or The Bolt Report where his dreadful journalism is transformed into visual bile. Where even people like Henderson are taken aback by his blatantly loaded biased questions.

I haven’t mentioned talkback radio because where I live we don’t receive Melbourne radio. However, when we lived in Melbourne I listened to Jon Faine. Melbourne Radio is fortunately devoid of the hatred of the likes of Jones and Hadley.

In short I don’t always agree with what I read see or hear on the ABC but for me it is overwhelmingly the fairest and most balanced of all Australian mainstream media.

The ABC has periodically had to withstand attacks from individuals and vested interests. (I remember Keating and Hawke saying it was biased when it suited them.) None however as brazen as the current one. I have read many articles on the subject in support of the ABC. And they are to be commended for doing so.

However, none address motive.

This current attack was started by the Australian Newspaper (known in the trade as the official newsletter of the Liberal Party) a couple of weeks ago. It centred on a perceived bias the ABC allegedly has. Personally I struggle with that perception. Under their charter they are obliged to give a balanced view. Even when the force of evidence is heavily weighted to one side.

Fancy the most biased media outlet in Australia complaining about the bias of another.

At one stage they were so hysterical they were arguing that the ABC should not be promoting Twitter and Facebook on its on line sites while at the same time featuring a social media share button on every story on the page.

Then The Australian came into procession of a leaked document revealing the salaries of a number of ABC staff members and wet themselves with delight. They produced story after story about no one else’s business. In the end we found that collectively a few ABC employees got a combined annual salary equal to what Kyle Sandilands earns in one year.

In the last election the ABC gave limited coverage to the Labor Party in terms of policies where it could be argued that they were competent but battered them in terms of politics where they were abysmal. Climate change is another example of the Charter working against Labor. 98% of the world’s scientists say it is real yet the ABC has to give equal billing to those who say it is not. How silly is that?
I even take issue with the frequency of appearance of Peter Reith on The Drum. He must be the most nauseatingly biased former politician ever. And when Q&A can’t get enough right wing audience members they go to the Christian Hillsong Church for bums on seats.

The attack was quickly taken up by Bolt with cries of outrageous bias while at the same time ignoring his and his Masters behavior during the recent election. In Australian political history there has been nothing like the bias shown by the Murdoch Press. How is it possible to accuse the ABC of bias when two outlets own 85% of the print media and three of the four TV channels are commercial?

Unashamedly the attack was then taken up by the government. It accused the ABC of poor judgement in doing a joint story with The Guardian about phone tapping in Indonesia. Unprecedented were the words used to describe Tony Abbotts attack on the independent broadcaster. Others joined in. Cory Bernardi went on AM and to show their fairness the ABC gave him an undeserving 15 minutes of which Fran Bailey took the Tea Party sympathizer apart. The speaker Bronwyn Bishop had her say in the party room. Why was the speaker even involved in the debate if she is independent and unbiased? Malcolm Turnbull and Ian McDonald then followed suit.

So why all the dislike of Aunty? After all it is a much loved, trusted, and well run institution which in some areas is technologically streets ahead of its commercial rivals.

In fact it could be argued that Aunty is very much woven into the fabric of Australian culture.

Is it because conservatives don’t like successful public enterprises? Like the Clean Energy Finance Corp. It is making around $200 million a year. It got a stay of execution last Tuesday. What sort of Government would ditch a company making that sort of profit? Ideology gone mad I would suggest.

Bernardi insists that the ABC should take advertising. He seems to overlook the fact that it is the lack of revenue from this source that is killing print media. That and deplorable content. And he wants Aunty to also take a slice. On top of that he reckons we should pay for online content. When Fran Kelly asked if we should pay twice he didn’t answer. He did indicate though that there was virtue in commercial media because it was ‘’funded by advertising revenues”, while “the ABC is funded by the taxpayers”. Bernardi’s main gripe seemed to be that the ABC was encroaching on online media space again ignoring the fact that Aunty just happens to be light years ahead of the commercial outlets. And they don’t like that of course.

A recent study found that among Australian adults, 64 percent regard ABC radio programs as “good” while only 51 percent give a “good” rating to commercial radio. (The “bad” ratings are 11 percent for the ABC, 35 percent for commercial radio.) The contrast for television is even higher – 78 percent “good” for the ABC comparing with 44 percent for commercial stations.

Similar differences are found for trust. For coverage of the recent election campaign, the ABC was highly trusted, followed by the Fairfax media, and the Murdoch media came a very poor third.

The IPA (The right wing think tank) is influential in Coalition ranks and has the same aim as Murdoch. They both want to see the ABC defunded or commercialised. In doing so they want to eliminate what they see as left wing political bias and increase their own.

It is estimated that editorially Murdoch gave the conservatives about 30 million dollars’ worth of free advertising in the last election. Now he wants his pound of flesh. We have seen the first salvo shot at the ABC. I wonder what they will take aim at next.

As it stands the Prime Minister is making a mess of everything he touches at the moment so it may not be politicly astute to bury the ABC just yet but I’m sure it’s in his head to do so.

But I also think there will be an uprising when he tries it.

This statement by ABC Managing Director Mark Scott pretty much sums it up:

“We have come under concentrated attack from News Corp,” he said. “Some aspects seem quite obsessed by us and I think there are some who have an ideological opposition to public broadcasting. I think there are some who think they would make more money if the ABC wasn’t what it is today.”

To quote Amanda Meade of The Guardian:

With those remarks Scott got to the heart of the issue. The newspaper is ideologically opposed to a public broadcaster. It believes the ABC is taxpayer-funded competition for an already stretched commercial media, and has expanded far beyond its original remit with ABC Online, digital channels, a 24-hour news channel and an overseas channel, Australia Network, which should – News Corp believes – rightly be run by Sky News.

There are three areas of motive. The competition motive. The power motive or the ideological motive. One or all could be at play here but because Murdoch spends $25 million annually to prop up The Australian I think I will settle on a mixture of all three.

It is not often we see two entities, a government and a commercial news outlet the size of News Corp, combine to manufacture a reason for the demise of a government independent body.

Then again Tony owes him one.

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Categories: Media, Politics

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27 replies

  1. Good heavens, John! – what on earth makes you think you’re alone? American sitcoms? – give me a break! I am an Aunty only viewer, and have said it’s because I can’t stand commercials; but in fact I can’t stand the level of programming on any other channel (SBS gets watched throughout July, of course). This garbage being touted by the Murdoch-lovers is breathtakingly audacious: SURELY it can’t gain sway …?

  2. If Murdoch triumphs I shall remove the tuner from my TV but keep it functional for BluRays and DVDs and run my laptop through it. Perhaps Twiggy Forrest may fund a Public Broadcast Hour every week?

  3. Reblogged this on Brad's Blog and commented:
    Worth reposting:

  4. All very true …. thanks for putting it so well …. we are also mainly an ABC/SBS viewing couple. I have a PVC which I record anything on from the commercial channels (which unfortunately have a few British programs and former ABC hosted programs we like). With the PVC we can swish through all the commercials (find I have a decided allergic reaction to them) …..

  5. On behalf of the millions of fair-minded progressives out here, thanks John, I could not have said it any better. We all need to be pro-active and supportive in stopping this Murdoch-driven (ie profit-driven) attack on the ABC.

  6. While totally concurring with your viewpoints regarding the Murdoch empire and the once-proud Fairfax media, I rarely watch either the corporation-owned channels or ABC1, ABC2, ABC3 due to their incessant commercials and self-promotion (the ABC heavily promotes not only its other programs, but also the ABC Shop).

    However, I have wasted some exasperating hours attempting to extract information from ABC24 News channel, which should be more accurately titled ABC Opinion Channel because rarely is the news presented in a straightforward objective way that is now restricted to such segments as the results of sporting contests, stock market reports and weather forecasts.

    What is spewed out instead is a merry-go-round of interviews between the duty-shift news “presenter” and various “correspondents”, a practice which is distinctly American and, consequently, Americanises the ABC audience far worse than watching any USA melodramas or sitcoms. During the last election, I found it abysmal that ABC journalists covering the major parties’ campaign events were invariably inexperienced and devoid of any sense of context, historical or current.

    At an even deeper level of egregious opinion mongering, there is “The Drum”, which has adopted the practice that badly degrades “The Insiders” on ABC1, of being dominated by conservative politicians and print media journalists who are either Murdoch’s minions or terrified of incurring the displeasure of Gina Rinehart.

    ABC 24 also copycats commercial TV and radio breakfast nonsense programs featuring the obligatory male-female combination who twist every news topic around their personal biases (in exactly the same manner as Alan Jones, Hadley etc.) while indulging in celebrity gossip and making a token effort to involve viewers by reading a carefully culled Tweet or other message out of many dozens sent to them. In other words, this is life imitating the art of Working Dog Productions’s satire “Frontline” ——- come back, Mike Moore. All is forgiven.

    Ironically, Mr. Lord, the woeful level to which the ABC as a news organization has descended is one of the reasons why I, and probably many others, have greatly appreciated the advent of AIMN and other independent news websites in English-speaking countries.

  7. I like the last sentence.

    Ciao,

    Rachel

    Sent from Samsung tablet

  8. Definitely not alone :) I gave up buying newspapers about 35 years ago due to their lies, exaggerations and opinions. Why would anybody in their right mind pay for somebody’s opinion when they can get it for free :) And I am well known for annoyingly correcting my grandchildren’s Americanised speech and replacing it with Aussie slang :)

  9. The Limited-News/Murdoch delusion that `they` will make more profit and have more readers for their papers or viewers for their pay-tv is false ideology. Even if Team-Roopert Global-Crime did shut down the bbc, abc and internet they still wouldn`t gather the rewards they dream of. Many of us can`t afford pay-tv, a self-inflicted arse-fcuk, when you champion casual/part-time low-paid workforce for the public. Won`t be sellin` papers either to those of us who gave-up Rooperts chip-wrappers decades ago. Can`t see Roopert being able to shut-down the internet, even the teabags won`t put all their eggs in the Limited-News basket, and take-on `all-other` business.

  10. Michael LaFave makes some interesting points and I have to concede that, whilst I’m virtually an ABC/SBS only listener and viewer – I can’t miss BORGEN on SBS1 – I am impressed with the quality of the Jim Lehrer Hour on SBS, presenting intelligent discussion, largely free of emphatic partisan influences; a good model to follow perhaps.

    Yes, we can do better with our ABC, the first challenge being to ensure that it remains ours: I find it ominous that our new Prime Minister refuses to appear on the ABC and even today, Fran Kelly had to take a Channel Nine interview feed to give us Abbott’s take on GMH.

  11. Abbott won’t appear on the ABC because he’s a gutless c**t.

  12. Hmmm… interesting. I personally think some American sit-coms such as ‘MASH’ and ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Frazier’ had a bit too offer. I agree the newspaper field has diminished in Australia, but the void, to an extant, has been filled by The Conversation and Crikey among numerous offerings. The real loss will be in quality investigative journalism. And that is why we need an independent ABC.

    Murdoch’s pursuit of the ABC defies rhyme or reason. It just appears as spiteful vindictiveness. His newspapers are going down the toilet. He will probably face legal action in Britain. The well-concocted empire is unravelling. To make matters worse the Liberal Party with the puppet Abbott is turning into the most extraordinary joke that appears to wear its grotesque conflicts of interests as badges of honour. There is something corrupt and unworkable about Australia’s present government.

    The Murdoch family have a long and happy relationship with the IPA. Sir Keith of course was a founding member. The IPA was formed as a measure to represent the interests of Capitalists and Industrialists after the United Australia Party folded due to corruption. The IPA was pivotal to the formation of the Liberal Party and the bankrolling of Bob Menzies. The IPA claims to be a think-tank but has historically been more of a money laundering service providing immense propaganda for the more extremist ‘conservative’ element of the Liberal Party. (Extremist conservative may sound like an oxymoron until you read the Victorian-based moron Andrew Bolt – they do actually exist).

    The chairman of the ABC, Jim Spigelman, made this observation recently, “I am bemused when I notice that some critics who wish to tear down this long-lived institution call themselves ‘conservative’”.

    One suspects that Cory Bernadi is nothing more than a self-aggrandising narcissist. Those sorts of people tend to self-implode. The more decent and democratic aspects of the Liberal Party will tolerate him until he endangers their own survival and then they will simply put him back in his box.

    I must admit I do find the constant referral to Facebook and Twitter to be extremely annoying. It is also a bit disconcerting to see the ABC Shop advertising on the History Channel on FoxTel. There are a number of issues involved with the ABC and they are not necessarily black & white, but maintaining its integrity and independence is essential.

  13. I am with M.R,here,big John,I don’t even give the commercial channels credibility with their news.I know some must be true,and I really can’t sit there and watch five minutes of adverts.

  14. vale ABC
    24 and the breakfast show are enough for deciding there is no longer reason to fund abc journalism. when the abc was repeating the rabbott’s negative slogans about the economy, debt, carbon tax and juliar. there was no problems but now they are on a limb by airing news items that are not reported on free to air VALE.
    The rabbott gained many votes by exploiting sunrise and today repeating outrageous lies unchallenged by labor’s richo or the lemon. notice there are such opportunities for little billy’s opposition. perhaps he cannot get airtime??? it will be awful when the rabbott sinks the abc but i find the grinning rowland and trioli ignorant of fact, devoid of subtlety and flippant so i will only miss kennedy. sales and sabra are occasionally average but not enough to watch. jones and alberici are awful, it is obvious they are primed for algorithmic cues and are not listening to any answers but thinking of the next question to elicit the cue to attack. Insiders always had a rabbott apologiser or two and gillard never had a strong proactive supporter.
    no normal person who watches the abc could ever say the news and current affairs had labor bias but who cares? the rabbott, alan jones and the bolt believe it has so it has. qed

  15. Doctorrob54

    I watch news on other channels out of what one might call a professional interest, no other reason. Other than that I agree.

  16. Yes mate I can fully appreciate that,and to be honest,I am quit often left wondering about the ABC also.
    It seems to me that impartiality is being blown away in the wind.I must admit that sometimes I do click over to some earlier news on commercial TV,only sometimes.I just wish I wouldn’t get carried away,get angry,get shitty with the rubbish and simply sift the facts which folks of your profession just do naturally.

  17. I have never watched an American sitcom, I have never bought a Sun or Herald Sun, I used to buy the Herald to read on the train, but gave that up about 40 years ago.
    I am a fan of the ABC but gave up on 7:30 the first time I saw Chris Uhlman spouting biased crap.
    I hate the summer when the ABC thinks it has to compete in the race to the bottom with the commercials and screens rubbish too. I was channel surfing a few nights back and actually found an interesting doco on a commercial channel, but that didn’t last long, after a couple of minutes there was an ad break, and what an ad break, I said to my wife that must have been 10 ads, after another couple of minutes of program another ad break so I sat there and counted them, there were 19 ads, a few minutes later when the next lot of ads came on the TV went off. Its very empowering that little white switch on the wall.

  18. jasonblog

    “Murdoch’s pursuit of the ABC defies rhyme or reason.”

    Not so : Murdoch sees public broadcasters as an evil depriving him of revenue which he considers is rightfully his.

    He has consistently attacked the BBC in the UK but has had to put that campaign on the back-burner while he sorts out criminal activities which, as a US based corporation, just might have him before a Grand Jury in the USA if the charges are proven.

    He has seen it in his narrow economic interests to attack the ABC and help ease an ill prepared political party into government in Australia, supported by months of free editorial and screeching headlines in the run up to the election. In the normal course of commercial transactions this would have cost the LNP a small fortune but they got it all gratis ; there is however a price and Murdoch will collect his pound of flesh in the form of an enquiry into the ABC initially and then probably curtailment of some (think online) activities and broadcast rights into Asia.

    The ABC is particularly vulnerable at this time as a public broadcaster can only be defended by the government of the day who, disturbingly, are now supporting the attack.

  19. In Queensland, public opinion was outraged when the ABC News showed footage of the street and house number of the law enforcement officer in charge of the QLD Government’s war on bikie-related crime. That put the man and his family in serious danger. His wife was distraught.
    The ABC has been a leading culprit in the cover-up of the Gillard/Wilson AWU slush fund scandal. Gold Coast con man Larry Pickering alone has done more
    to ventilate this story than the $1.2 billion ABC has.
    Legal proceedings are going ahead regarding the Chasers’ depiction of ABC critic Chris Kenny as a dog-f*****.
    I will be glad to see the ABC broken up and privatised. The very idea of a State-owned media empire is unfit in a democracy.

  20. David Black

    Are you suggesting that the ABC have control over the police force? Or could it be that Larry Pickering and Michael Smith are misleading you? And could it be that you don’t actually have any idea of what goes on at the ABC?

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-09/magistrate-gives-fraud-police-access-to-bruce-wilson-documents/5144618

  21. I can’t believe there are simpletons out there that actually believe the ABC is biased to the left.I believe it to be the opposite .Chris Uhlman,left,Leigh Sales,left.D Black are you for real.Even Tony Jones could sometimes be mistaken for that other Jones.And what has reporters blue by showing the residents of a police officer have to do with left wing politics.
    And ABC,leading culprit in slush fund cover up,FFS what did they do,hide or better still,burn files.

  22. The things we do in the name of research…..

    I often wonder where people like David Black are getting their information from because it helps to understand why they think the way they do. The following two posts were done 2 days ago (Dec 13th)

    There was a post from Pickering that deserves repeating. I agree with what he says.

    “Smacking makes you feel better and the child feel worse

    Kid smackers must feel a fraction guilty because, without exception, they verbally reduce the act to “a light tap” or “a smack on the bottom never hurt me”.

    Smack your partner, who can smack you back, and you both could be arrested.

    Smack your kid, who can’t smack you back, and it’s responsible parenting. Crumbs!

    Parental frustration is usually the reason a child is smacked.

    Unfortunately he/she grows up believing this moderate form of violence is a solution to a problem.”

    Note there is NO mention of Tony Abbott.

    Sadly for Larry that post was not popular with his usual audience. The top two answers start…

    “sorry Larry Pickering, do not agree at all……” with 146 likes

    “Sorry, but I disagree too……” with 94 likes

    He very quickly moved onto a thread he called “LITTLE THINGS MEDIA’S LEFT COMPLETELY MISSED”

    I will not reproduce the list of 20 things as I believe many of them could be libellous but, as an example of priority

    1. 1. Magistrate Lauristen’s ruling on the attempted suppression of AWU evidence by S & G and Bruce Wilson.
    2. Julia Gillard under investigation by Vic. Major Fraud Squad.
    3. ABC chair, Spigelman’s outrageous response to questions regarding the treasonous release of national security material.
    .
    .
    6. Julia Gillard’s communist background.
    .
    10. Blatant and admitted bias by the ABC.
    .
    .
    16. Anthropogenic global warming scam.
    17. The far Left’s takeover of the CSIRO.

    He goes on to state statistics about politicians charged with criminal offences….by party…not name….with NO link or source.

    This man who draws cartoons (amongst a few other ….ventures) currently has 17,358 likes and many readers and commenters.

    No wonder there are many confused angry people out there.

  23. You really do have to question the critical thinking ability of most of those “confused, angry people” Kaye Lee…

  24. Bacchus note their reaction to the smacking post. Perhaps their anger and confusion started long ago.

  25. I went to school in the 60′s and 70′s. When I look back at it, violence against children was an every day occurrence. Someone was always getting the cane, and for some, far worse abuse as the Royal Commission is so tragically reminding us. Most kids got smacked at home, and we all knew kids who got far worse from their own families. It may help to explain why many of us have become so uncaring. It would be good to break the cycle.

    So to get back to John’s point….we can’t leave the inrforming of people to Larry Pickering and Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones. We MUST have an alternative voice.

  26. Thanks John – although you would be doing yourself a favour if you check out Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report – both of which prove American Satire is not an oxymoron. Brilliant stuff.

    As for Aunty – it is so much a part of the Australian zeitgeist, I do not see how it could be dismantled – however I am such a economic-softhead that I still cannot get over the privatisation of essential government services started by Hawke & Keating, accelerated by Howard (was there any privatisation by Gillard/Rudd? I don’t think so) and now there is very little holding back the Abbott government from complete corporatisation of Australia.

    One thing I am sure Murdoch has never, ever said to Abbott is “Have you noticed how both Labor and the LNP throw tanties at Aunty whichever party is in office?” Betting he keeps that little fact to himself.

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