Writing for The Guardian, Emma Dawson, executive director of the Per Capita think tank, takes umbrage at the ongoing attempts by the current federal government to neuter the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) through funding cuts, unwarranted public ‘inquiries’, and interference with governance arrangements. Rather than say anything more, I’ll let Dawson’s words speak for themselves concerning the rationale behind these attempts:
This latest attempt to nobble the ABC is in the fine tradition set by Australia’s commercial media when the national broadcaster was first formed in 1932. Newspaper proprietors then were outraged that the government would establish a publicly-funded service to provide broadcast radio news, in direct competition to their daily mastheads.
For more than a decade, the ABC was prevented from conducting its own newsgathering, with restrictions imposed to keep them reliant on the newspapers. This campaign against the ABC was led by Keith Murdoch, and only came to an end when the immediate provision of news from the front lines of the second world war demonstrated to the Australian public the superior service available through the national broadcaster.
It will be only the support of the people that will save the ABC again now. The senate crossbench demonstrated its willingness to prioritise the demands of the commercial media over the public interest when it passed the media “reform” package last year.
If we are to protect the ABC’s ability, and that of SBS, to continue to provide digital and online services to Australian audiences, we must rise up against this concerted campaign of funding cuts and attempts to limit the activities of our national broadcasters through regulatory and legislative changes.
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