AUNTY NEEDS A FACE-LIFT
...and a lift in ratings
Four-time Walkley Award winning political commentator and Churchill Fellow, has returned to the fray over concern that the integrity of news dissemination is continually being threatened by a partisan media.
The Gillard-appointed crusty old Leftie, ABC Chairman Jim Spigelman, along with his offsider Mark Scott, have plenty to fear from next Tuesday’s budget. They are about to lose their $250 million Gillard-gifted (and tender circumvented) Australia Network along with 80 million Chinese who have taken a liking to Skippy and Bananas in Pyjamas.
But back home it’s a different story. Of their 25 top scripted programs only one, “Scandal”, is holding its own against the commercial channels. Of the remaining 24, all have suffered massive ratings losses with “The Neighbours” losing over 48% of viewers and another five shows either cancelled or held over.
So, what to do with this arrogant nest of Marxist wastrels who have hijacked our ABC and teamed up with that UK far-Left rag, The Guardian? Well, not much really.
Slashing its luxurious budget of $1.3 billion won’t discourage its unbridled support of Labor/Green values and not one highly-paid executive will cop a pay cut, but you can bet its rural programming will take a hit because that’s the only part of its programming the Abbott Government will be at pains to preserve.
Can it be sold? No, it can’t be because the commercial networks, with their multiple channels, are struggling to compete for the available advertising dollar.
Channel 10 is on its last legs and Channel 9 is up to its ear lobes in debt with SKY sucking the advertising buck out of all of them.
SKY is currently running 18-minutes per hour of commercials and viewers are wasting their time switching channels to avoid the annoying impost because ads are cunningly sequenced to run at the same time on all of over 100 channels.
Add to that the rural channels with their aggregated commercials, in concert with a patchwork of FM radio stations and on-line advertising, and it’s not hard to see why newspapers are dying a fast death.
Selling an amorphous ABC network into the commercial mix would be as welcome as a fart in a two-man Italian lift.
To get the ABC back on track will be electorally unpalatable for Abbott. And he has few choices.
He could decide to go for institutional reform and pay out the Board’s contracts installing an independent (politically impartial) Chairman who could restructure the whole Marxist mess from the top down.
The Left will scream blue murder at losing their main media mouthpiece but they will still have Fairfax, The Guardian and a few rabid on-line outlets, so maybe that’s possible.
The best option is to flick the whole bloody thing, only don’t say you’re flicking it, say you’re amalgamating it with SBS. Then restructure SBS to take up the ABC’s rural commitments, dilute its ethnic content and give it full commercial access.
Any hole that’s left, including indigenous stuff, will be eagerly filled by SKY. ABC Radio National should remain.
The cost of having a public broadcaster would then be a reasonable and diminishing $300,000 or less, depending on advertising revenue.
SBS and Channel 10 could then fight it out for third spot in a ratings war, with Channel 10 certain to lose.
That would give us three free-to-air channels and a bourgeoning SKY, all highly profitable.
Once the whole thing settles down, flog it off with an attractive IPO and everyone’s happy, ‘cos at the moment television proliferation is a bloody dog’s breakfast.