Communications Minister Richard (I-own-the-airwaves) Alston has been
involved in a bit of tit-for-tat with your ABC. While the exact order of
events is unclear, the ABC seems to have expected more funding, while Richard
thought that around $600 million a year was an adequate sum for biting the hand
that feeds them. The government maintained the
ABC's funding in real terms.
So the ABC cut their ABC Kids and Fly TV stations. Nothing
like a bit of self-harm to get attention from a moist-eyed public. They knew
this would attract attention.
So Alston went on the offensive, and started criticizing the ABC's Iraq war coverage - detailing every
biased little pathetic leftie innuendo in the campaign on his web-site.
And in the petulant name calling and mudslinging, one view gets
conveniently ignored - that the government has no business owning a mass media network. There is no
shortage of news or opinions on the Internet, and with Telstra subsidizing
'disadvantaged groups' (including groups like wealthy graziers) for Internet
access, there is no shortage of opinions, or alternative news sources, and
hardly a need for a Stalinesque 'official information source'.
In a privatized
media environment, people wouldn't bother arguing about bias - they would just
press the channel change button on their remote controls and the irritation
could be gone forever. But for some reason Australians feel the need to
pool their money by force and then bicker over how
it is spent instead of just making their own decisions with their own
money. It's called 'collective good'.
So this dinosaur of the glorious days of statism is going to be hard to
kill - particularly as the majority of ABC viewers actually vote Liberal. The middle
classes often prefer their news and current affairs to be a little more
analytical than little Orphan Annie stories of children born without skin or
two headed dogs. They turn to the ABC, where tolerating the left-wing bias is a
smaller price to pay than suffering the trash available on the commercial
Of course in a free
market, more balanced analytical programs would emerge on commercial
stations, but the $600 million yearly government subsidy for the ABC
effectively drives everyone else out of the market. Then the Left use the lack of
commercial alternatives to justify the continuing ABC subsidies.
So Alston doesn't want to cut ABC funding - that would reduce middle class
welfare, and lose him votes. He just wants it to be a little less biased.
And besides, the fuss draws attention away from his digital multi-channeling
But squeezing this parasite off the government tit to teach it some manners
isn't going to cut it. This parasite has a very loud voice, and will do a lot
of self harm to get attention. And what about the little children?
Cutting the ABC Kids channel is the political equivalent of
breaking children's toys - surely the kind of strategy that only a playground
bully or a spoiled, bloated corporation would employ.
That's your ABC.