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Anthony Howard Cole
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ABC and SBS differ from the commercials in that they broadcast genuine fearless investigative reporting and they are the seed bed for ALL intelligent humour and satire on television.
The closure of channel nine's Sunday and the stripping of Fairfax mean that, in their present form, ABC and SBS alone constitute an essential pillar of our democracy.
They do this job well. Consequently we have, even ahead of the UK, the most vigilant media in the world.
The managers of SBS and ABC will of course be salivating at the prospect of a vast multiplication of their realms via digital broadcasting. You, as minister, must resist their blandishments, pleadings and snow-jobs.
The digital revolution consists of this:
- Broadcast quality recording and editing equipment has become very cheap.
- Digital broadcasting will multiply the number of channels available for broadcast by a factor of 7 or more.
- Internet broadband enables streaming and podcasting.
- A printing press and distribution network is no longer needed to publish news in text and pictures.
Regarding 1) Both broadcasters should be encouraging and enabling "garage" and "guerrilla" producers to provide them with content. One or more such producers from each ethnic community and community of interest should be active at any given moment, working on interpretations of issues of concern to their community.
Regarding 2) So what? These broadcasters are fulfilling their remit to inform and educate and keep an eye on government, unions and business very nicely with the existing channels. If anything, allowing them to colonise more frequency will simply dilute their content, and demand for froth to fill the new capacity would inevitably drain resources from those programs that fulfil their charters and perform the role of vigilant watchdogs.
Regarding 3) So what? Podcasts are a wonderful adjunct to broadcast. Very useful for catching missed programs or re-listening and -watching. But that is all, an adjunct. EVERYBODY I know who downloads podcasts prefers free-to-air. Ignore the empire-builders in the internet departments of these organisations. We are a very, very long way from the internet displacing broadcast free-to-air radio and TV. Relax. Don't let them stampede you.
Regarding 4) The ABC has become a trusted web news portal. This should be encouraged and it ought to be translated into Chinese, Indonesian and Arabic.
By the way, allowing advertising on SBS is not only wrong it is stupid.