Now I know my ABC

FNF Media has finally got around to updating the state of our ABC as compiled in the 2018/19 annual report.

The national broadcaster still believes we should fork over even more taxpayer dollars to keep this icon producing more of what the citizens supposedly demand, even though more of the audience believes that “efficiency/management quality” is headed south (p.158) and overall ratings continue to slide.

Despite over $1bn per annum, why do ratings in the metro and regional areas keep falling? We wrote about this last year:

Comparing 2016/17 and 2015/16 the TV audience reach for metro fell from 55.2% to 52.5% and regional slumped from 60.3% to 57.3%. If we go back to 2007/8 the figures were 60.1% and 62.4% respectively. For the 2017/18 period, the ABC targets a 50% reach. Hardly a stretch.

In 2018/19 it fell into the mid-40s. So inside of 13 years, ABC audiences have shrunk by 10-15%. That is appalling.

We have argued for a long time that the ABC needs a complete overhaul.

In the 2018 annual report, the ABC staff survey revealed engagement was at 46%, 6% below the previous survey. This put the broadcaster in the bottom quartile of all ANZ businesses. Reform was and still is desperately needed.

ABC staff complained that management didn’t do enough to get rid of underperformers. Another clear signal that state-sponsored mediocrity was tolerated and staff didn’t like it.

In the 2018/19 annual report, Chair Ita Buttrose AC made the following comments,

Staff morale was badly shaken, and my priority has been to reinvigorate it by restoring order and enhancing good governance with the help of Managing Director, David Anderson, and his management team. Our employees, in content areas and vital support functions, need a strong sense of direction and a feeling that management has their backs. I feel we are now providing it.

Tucked away in the back pages (p.216) is an interesting subsection on the Code of Practice. There is some eye-opening content with respect to the way it conducts its business.

Take this gem to start with on complaints as to whether it constitutes a potential breach of the charter:

A complainant is entitled under section 150 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) (“the BSA”) to take their complaint to the ACMA if, after 60 days, the ABC fails to respond to the complainant or the complainant considers the ABC’s response is inadequate.

The ACMA has a discretionary power to investigate a complaint alleging the ABC has,
in providing a national broadcasting service, breached its Code of Practice. Section 151 of the BSA provides that the ACMA may investigate the complaint if it thinks that it is desirable to do so.

The ACMA’s jurisdiction under sections 150-151 does not encompass the ABC’s print content or content disseminated by the ABC over the internet or through mobile devices.

Print and internet-based content fall out of the remit for complaints. So technically ABC can say what it pleases. ACMA is hardly wielding a big stick when it comes to the ABC.

Accuracy is a fun area which would seemingly fall foul of rarely being presented in context:

2.1 Make reasonable efforts to ensure that material facts are accurate and presented in context.
2.2 Do not present factual content in a way that will materially mislead the audience. In some cases, this may require appropriate labels or other explanatory information.

Why did the ABC report that less than 1% of burnt area in the recent bushfires had been started by arsonists? Given that most fires couldn’t be attributed to anything at the time, the ABC forgot to mention the “unknown” category so it could slice the data so it could list the smallest possible percentage. 12,000 fires had been reported since August 2019. 1,700 had been investigated with 42% reported by the NSW Police as deliberately lit.

Impartiality

…The ABC’s obligation to apply its impartiality standard as objectively as possible. In doing so, the ABC is guided by these hallmarks of impartiality:
• a balance that follows the weight of evidence;
• fair treatment;
• open-mindedness; and
• opportunities over time for principal relevant perspectives on matters of contention to be expressed.

Why did it allow a bunch of radical feminists to openly call for the murder of men, providing a platform to a convicted terrorist or happily release a tweet that said former PM Abbott liked anal sex? Or calling conservative politicians “c@nts“? Guess we’re just not open minded enough.

4.1 Gather and present news and information with due impartiality.
4.2 Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.
4.3 Do not state or imply that any perspective is the editorial opinion of the ABC. The ABC takes no editorial stance other than its commitment to fundamental democratic
principles including the rule of law, freedom of speech and religion, parliamentary democracy and equality of opportunity.
4.4 Do not misrepresent any perspective.
4.5 Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.

Why does the ABC constantly run a climate alarmist narrative? Why does Q&A attack conservatives on the panel almost every episode?

Secret recording and other types of deception

“5.8 Secret recording, misrepresentation or other types of deception must not be used by the ABC or its co-production partners to obtain or seek information, audio, pictures or an
agreement to participate except where:

(a) justified in the public interest and the material cannot reasonably be obtained
by any other means; or
(b) consent is obtained from the subject or identities are effectively obscured; or
(c) the deception is integral to an artistic work.

In cases, the potential for harm must be taken into consideration.”

Why did the ABC insert ­itself into the election campaign with a program timed to derail the election prospects of the Left’s hate ­figure, Pauline Hanson and One Nation? An Al ­Jazeera expose, How to Sell a Massacre, was a sting three years in the making, employing hidden cam­eras to ­record One Nation’s ­unsuccessful attempts to solicit foreign funding with the aid of the National Rifle Association. Why was the ABC consorting with the national broadcaster of a foreign power which has highly exceptional human rights standards which flies in the face of all the woke agenda pushed by the ABC? Double standards much?

Privacy

Privacy is necessary to human dignity and every person reasonably expects that their privacy will be respected. But privacy is not absolute. The ABC seeks to balance the public interest in respect for privacy with the public interest in disclosure of information and freedom of expression.

That is a whole can of worms. Can we trust the ABC to execute fairly in this regard?

Harm & Offence

“7.1 Content that is likely to cause harm or offence must be justified by the editorial context.
7.2 Where content is likely to cause harm or offence, having regard to the context, make
reasonable efforts to provide information about the nature of the content through the use of classification labels or other warnings or advice.”
7.6 Where there is editorial justification for content which may lead to dangerous imitation or exacerbate serious threats to individual or public health, safety or welfare, take appropriate steps to mitigate those risks, particularly by taking care with how content is expressed or presented.
7.7 Avoid the unjustified use of stereotypes or discriminatory content that could reasonably be interpreted as condoning or encouraging prejudice.”

Again, what purpose was there to get a panel of radical feminists outright calling for the murder of men? Or just use taxpayer funds on an article on how to give blow jobs?

Kids Programs

Take due care over the dignity and physical and emotional welfare of children and young people who are involved in making, participating in and presenting content produced or commissioned by the ABC…Take particular care to minimise risks
of exposure to unsuitable content…

Why did the ABC run a kids program attacking white privilege?

We have long supported a shift to the TVNZ model, where the kiwi national broadcaster is forced to raise most of its own revenue by appealing to the demands of the market.

TVNZ gets $310m of its $318m purse from advertising. It’s staff costs excluding capitalizing into programs is $72m which converts to 23% staff cost/revenues. They do with 642 FT employees. Revenue/employee is $495,000 vs half that at the ABC. It paid a dividend back to the government of $3.7m. i.e. it is a revenue generating asset.

In 2007, TVNZ had $339m in revenue. It employed 1,023 people. Therefore revenue per employee was $331,380. So in a decade, TVNZ efficiency improved almost 50%. A 6% cut to revenue on 63% reduction in staff. TVNZ ratings are up too.

So instead of Ita Buttrose impersonating Oliver Twist she should be channeling Jerry Maguire and asking advertisers to “show her the money!”

The ABC needs to live in the real world of media because it provides no distinct differentiation from what is already available in the marketplace. You see our ABC should be confident that it has a sustainable audience for its type of journalism. It shouldn’t be one to fear but one to embrace.

For the ABC, it’s best not risk it. Easier to suck on the teat of the taxpayer and ask for even more money so it can try to arrest the decline in so much content that is totally unsalvageable.

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