Sunday, October 09, 2005

Guess Who?

This editorial critical of the nation's public broadcaster ran recently in a major national newspaper. I've removed the specific national references. Can you guess what country's public broadcaster it's referring to?

TODAY, the journalists' union launches a nationwide campaign to "take a stand for the Corporation".

In this stirring endeavour, the union is backed by the Society of Authors, the Screen Directors Association, the Writers Guild and the Screen Producers Association.

Still, many citizens might think the Corporation needs little defending. After all, with a $773 million taxpayer-funded budget, an effectively self-governing work culture and a largely tame board, it faces no perceptible threat to its existence.


The aim is to give the Corporation resources equivalent to those of its competitors in the commercial media. The union also wants the Government to mandate higher levels of domestic-made television content on the broadcaster.

All this and heaven too? According to the union's rhetoric, an already powerful Corporation is in fact a victim in urgent need of a good samaritan. The union last week letterboxed its members around the country with a glossy booklet painting a piteous picture of a broadcaster whose "dedicated staff" are hard-pressed by "the whittling away of [government] funding".


Defenders of the current Corporation management regime loudly deny the existence of any ideological bias within the national broadcaster. But the absence of market forces in the Corporation's non-ratings-driven operating environment logically means that some other factor must dominate its day-to-day working culture.

That factor is staff control. To the extent that Corporation staff culture is influenced by the narrow middle-class values of the country's secular Left, so also is the programming and content of Corporation broadcasting.

Though stoutly denied by Corporation management, this point is often registered by outsiders. The National Institute, for example, has editorialised on the theme that ideological bias strongly influences the national broadcaster, despite the Corporation's regular giving of offence to both sides of national politics.


If this analysis is correct, the only solution lies in teaching Corporation staff greater awareness and greater respect for the values of all citizens, including conservative ones. Corporation staff and management must come to realise that values which do not fit within a secular small-l liberal world view are indeed intellectually possible, and are in fact believed in by many of the members of the public whom they are paid to serve.


The correct answer is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Read the rest of Paul Gray's editorial in The Australian.

The moral of the story: public broadcasting is just as bad Down Under as it is in the Great White North.

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