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May 07th 2015 print

James Allan

More of Mark Scott? Surely Not

Could it be that Tony Abbott's cabinet is infested with closet masochists, the sort who enjoy being beaten up by the national broadcaster its current managing director has so steadfastly refused to reform? It is the only way to explain this talk of extending his contract

scottLet me be blunt.  If this Coalition government extends Mark Scott’s term as the ABC’s managing director for a year, or even for two minutes, then I will not vote for them, no matter how awful the alternative.  Spoiled ballot here I come.

Remember, this is an ABC that blatantly does not meet its statutory obligation to be impartial.  How many presenters and producers of the ABC’s top TV current affairs shows are there with a right-of-centre pedigree?  Zero.   Nada.  None.  For Mark Scott that is not a problem.  He brushes it off with insouciant ease.   Of course, he mutters, all these ABC lefties (I paraphrase for him) are able to put aside their personal views and act impartially and so provide a down-the-middle unbiased picture – on climate change, boat people, spending restraint, are you laughing yet?

You can imagine that the ABC managing director would not be so unconcerned if every producer and presenter were a male; he would not be mouthing the line ‘that these men are fully capable of presenting the daily news and politics in a way that represents women just as much as men’.  No, Mr Scott would make damned sure that some women got hired.  And if he didn’t, the ABC board would demand that he did.

For wholly unrepresented conservatives (be they small government types or social conservatives, it matters not for both strains are absent) Scott does not lift a finger.  He does nothing.  He presides over a network that leans so far to the left (I steal this line from a British journalist) that it makes the BBC look like Fox News.

Well, this Abbott government that daily gets affected by the bias of the ABC (in terms of what news is run, what news is emphasised, who is interviewed, who is not interviewed, and so on) already looks pathetically weak when it comes to standing up to the ABC.  Look at the UK.  The Tories there regularly accuse the BBC of bias.  Here, the Coalition barely utters a peep.  It acquiesces in its own terrible treatment.

Now I know how it works,  that the ABC Board will pick Scott’s successor.  And the minister in charge is Malcolm Turnbull.  So that is no comfort at all, not with an ABC so lacking in impartiality that I don’t want my taxes going to this billion-dollar-a-year behemoth.  None a penny of them.  But as there is no chance of the Abbott government doing anything remotely tough on this front, it can at least have the good graces to tell Mr. Scott and his three-quarters-of-a-million-dollar salary that hell will freeze over before he gets an extension.

Do it openly, Tony.  Say why Scott’s contract is not being extended.  Demand that the board appoint someone who will make the ABC abide by its statutory obligations.  That is the very, very, very least a Coalition government should do.

 

Comments [9]

  1. Jody says:

    I’m in Europe and the complaints about BBC bias are exactly the same as they are in Australia about the ABC. Actually, the BBC World Service is a joke. My hubsand and watch it and are so fatigued by their (seemingly) daily feature “Inside Africa” and all the poetry contained therein, one begins to wonder if the BBC has any relevance at all today in the fractured world of media delivery platforms.

    Q&A is a test case for the ABC’s “unrepresentative swill”. It has become the mouthpiece for fashionable, smug and morally vain university students and minority interests and, as such, is no longer credible (thank God) in terms of Australian values and the polity generally. In short, it has self-destructed on its own bloated sense of morality and importance. And I’ll take that as a comment, thanks very much!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Bill Martin says:

    The most salient point in this article is where it refers to Malcolm Turnbull. Tony Abbott and his team are wary of Turnbull. They would be happy to be rid of him but don’t know how without upsetting his lefty or duped supporters. Whow knows how he or his fans would react if he was dumped from the cabinet and as long as he is in his powerful position, both the ABS and Mark Scott are safe.

    Bill Martin.

  3. en passant says:

    Peter, you really shocked me as I was unaware we still had an ABC! Suddenly, my mind went blank and the words of the Beatles song filled my mind, like – ‘Father McKenzie, writing a sermon no one will hear’ & ‘Eleanor Rigby died and was buried: nobody came’ seemed to sum up our ABC.

    I have 20 stations saved on my car radio and none are ABC stations. Even the Classical Music station is gone as it too often began with “And now for an obscure piece – which was obscure because it was so bad nobody wanted to hear it …

    TV I rarely watch and then usually only the History and Documentary Channels, or excellent dramas on ‘Entertainment’ or the ‘Movie’ channel. For this privilege of never watching ‘free to air’ and particularly the ABC, I pay $1,300/year.

    If you are telling the truth and something called the ABC really is still broadcasting, then it is just a huge waste of money that serves no perceivable purpose. What is the demographic and quantity of its audience? For all the largesse I unwillingly, but apparently heap on the ABC, what is its market penetration? Let’s apply a small ;value for money’ test. I haven’t looked it up, but if we add up the total revenues of 7, 9 & 10 and then add another $1.1Bn for the ABC (you are not kidding me are you, it really is still broadcasting, isn’t it?) + SBS, I figure that that the ABC stations must have captured 25% – 30% of the market. If they have not, then we are paying too much for too little and it should go – NOW.

    Like you, if the Liberals countenance keeping someone who has so failed to manage according to his lawful charter then my already shaky primary vote (on other issue) is not theirs. I will be voting for the third largest voting bloc in Oz – the 22% who give their dissenting vote to anyone but the Liberals, Labor or the Greens.

    I will check now if you were joking, but I am not.

  4. wisernow says:

    as with numerous others I am not a fan of the ABC and without reading Andrew Bolt’s column regularly I wouldn’t know there was a program called Q & A. I have never bothered to familiarise myself with its content.

    But there is a chink in my ABC armour. The number 1 breakfast announcer in WA is on the ABC morning radio and he never fails to delight and keep one entertained. That he’s a former Federal liberal member of the house of reps makes him even more delightful and more entertaining though he keeps politics out of his program. The most hotly debated issue on his program is the frequency of his playing the song Day Trip To Bangore – he played it again today and drew the usual good natured grumbles. Unfortunately I still have to endure the ABC morning news

  5. Geoffrey Luck says:

    Sad to say, neither Tony Abbott nor Malcolm Turnbull could prevent the extension of Mark Scott’s term, even if they wanted to. The Managing Director is appointed by the Board; the government has no say in the matter. On Jim Spigelman’s record so far as Chairman, he sees nothing wrong with the way the place is run.

  6. mct says:

    Two points :

    1. Q&A is still a very useful program. Not that I ever watch it, not that it has made any useful contribution to public life in living memory, but without it I would be deprived of the endlessly amusing Q&A thread on catallaxyfiles.com, which always brightens my Tuesday morning!

    2. Yes, the Board appoints the MD. So simply, as Dan Andrews has done in Victoria hither and yon, request their resignations. Or appoint sufficient new members to ensure it has the numbers.

  7. Alistair says:

    Count me out as a Liberal voter too. There is just so many times you can be slapped in the face and turn the other cheek. If Abbott wants to constantly pander to the left – he can do so. But without my support.