So much media, we don’t need SBS or ABC: Maurice Newman tells 2GB

“There is so much [media] now available… today they can stream it on their devices or smart tv,” former ABC Chairman Maurice Newman told 2GB’s Chris Smith.

“My generation grew up with the ABC… but there has been such a plethora of radio, tv, online that the availability of quality media is ubiquitous, cheap and accessible… there is no need to spend so much on those two public broadcasters.”

Newman’s main thesis related to SBS, and how migrants can now access information from their homeland easily from the internet. He was speaking after publishing an opinion article in The Australian titled ABC, SBS no longer have public purpose (subscription required).

The article featured a cartoon by Tom Gellett of B1 and B2 as homeless street people.

Smith asked, “has the ABC become a propaganda machine for left wing politics?” Newman agreed it has:

“No doubt about it… out there away from the inner urban elite and Canberra there is a growing feeling that the ABC is no longer relevant…

“You have the totalitarians on the hard left who want to have government sanctioned journalism, with access to producers, government… these people lobby very hard for left leaning content… this is not what the overwhelming amount of people [want to] pay for.”

He dismissed suggestion that a merger of the ABC and SBS would be successful. Listen to the interview here.

Part of his article in The Australian said:

A declining share of TV and radio audiences suggests that any distinctiveness the ABC may have had is losing its appeal. Younger demographics are mostly getting their news and entertainment from established social media feeds. Any public broadcasting behemoth seeking to be distinctive now, or in the future, will probably struggle in this increasingly fickle, demanding and, crowded cyberspace.

Working to the ABC’s advantage is the undue political attention it receives from Canberra. It is understood that Malcolm Turnbull personally intervened in the appointment of chief executive Michelle Guthrie, normally the prerogative of the board. This has led to complaints about the selection process. The Prime Minister also pushed for his friend Justin Milne to become the new chairman. This interference is unhealthy and reinforces the impression that the political class views the ABC as a state, rather than an independent, broadcaster…

The stark reality is that today’s case for taxpayer-funded media is thin and getting thinner. We can no longer dismiss the improvements to our freedoms, budgets and national debate, the break-up and sale of our public broadcasters would deliver us.

Countering Newman’s argument, David Salter, writing in Crikey (subscription required) in response to the Newman opinion piece, asserts that the public broadcasters remain important in the modern media mix.


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