As the ABC's aspiring rapper and economics guru Emma Alberici recently demonstrated, the difference between profit and revenue can be a tough concept for a certain type of person to grasp, even after better-versed editors have taken their essay in hand for an extensive re-writing. Yes, some people are slow learners and it seems Ms Alberici is once again prominent in their ranks.
Reacting on Twitter to news that the Liberal Party's national council had voted 2-to-1 to privatise her employer -- a proposal, by the way, Turnbull & Co., immediately rejected as absolutely and horrifically unthinkable -- Ms Alberici offered the view that, as the ABC carries no advertising, it couldn't possibly present a threat to commercial media outfits.
Such ignorance is perhaps understandable when coming from someone employed at top dollar by an organisation dedicated to spending other people's money, rather than making it for shareholders, so a brief tutorial is in order: Media companies make their money on the size of their audiences and readerships. The ABC's ad-free content steals that audience and reduces the amount advertisers can be charged.
All this is explained, and much more besides, in the new book by Chris Berg and Sinclair Davidson, both of RMIT, who just happened to be on Sky News and laying out the case for getting the national broadcaster off the public teat at exactly the same moment Ms Alberici was tweeting. In a snippet of that conversation Professor Sinclair explains his notion of handing the ABC to its employees here. For those keen to see the case further explored, Against Public Broadcasting can be ordered via this link or the one below.
People like us: Kerry and Phil, Bob and Julian
Earlier this week Phillip Adams treated Radio National listeners to the retired Kerry O’Brien, who presented his case for a taxpayer funded public broadcaster. As O’Brien’s production company some three years ago was paid “an undisclosed sum” for four hours of chatting with Paul Keating, his interest in a customer’s ongoing good health is understandable, although that was not what he stressed when detailing how great a gift to the nation is the ABC. It’s worth a listen, especially when O’Brien calls on listeners “to imagine life without a 4 Corners once a week”. His timing couldn’t have been worse, what with Sarah Ferguson’s globe-trotting three-parter having just delivered a second episode which, like the first, produced little but breathless innuendo and ABC bums on taxpayer-purchased business-class seats. But more of that in a post to come.
For the moment, if you have the stomach, listen to O'Brien and Adams tracing the ABC's genesis and lineage to the BBC, which was indeed the model for the national broadcaster. Ah, how things do change! The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, but in the ABC's case it has rolled a considerable distance from its progenitor. For all its faults, of which there are many, the BBC's greater openness to a wider variety of viewpoints puts its antipodean descendant to shame.
Compare, for example, the BBC's Question Time with the ABC's Q&A, which the former inspired. Question Time actually allows vigorous debate, with nothing like the habitual, tactical interruptions with which Tony Jones suppresses conservative guests' heresies. Question Time's audience seems not to be filtered and stacked, at least not with the same degree of shamelessness Q&A brings to filling its auditoriums with sandalled souls eager to cheer with lusty acclaim any and every Greens talking point. Likewise, Question Time is light on springing ambushes on conservative guests and only conservative guests. This compilation clip of Jacob Rees-Mogg enjoying the courtesy of being allowed to speak at length and without interruption makes the point. It could never have been compiled from Q&A footage, not in a million years -- unless, of course, the guests happens to be a member of an approved victim group, in which case the compere's interruptions are deferentially shelved. If you didn't see it, refresh your memory with blacktivist's Shareena Clanton's six-minutes of myth and bilge, Jones remaining the very picture of mute deference as his guests aggressive and unhinged nonsense spilled forth.
If you have a few minutes of life you don't mind squandering, listen to O'Brien and Adams gushing about their past, sometimes, and current employer. The episode of mutual admiration can be heard via this link. Along the way, allow yourself a wry chuckle when O'Brien claims the ABC presents "a diversity of viewpoints". And then, when the love-in is done, ask yourself how much better, more lively and informative the segment might have been had an ABC critic been invited to take part? To maintain equanimity as the love fest rolls on, a caution: don't think of the $1.2 billion per year that helps underwrite the two participants in such a self-serving, self-pleasuring, self-indulgent waste of the public airways.
And whatever else, do not use this link, and certainly not the one below, to hear this episode of BBC radio show Free Thinking, which features two uninterrupted conservatives, Douglas Murray being one of them, plus a Muslim several steps more cogent than Ubiquitous Aly, so beloved by the ABC, and a presenter who mostly presents his guests rather than himself. Engaging and intelligent, any comparison with a local facsimile production can only infuriate.
-- roger franklin