Much has been written recently about the ABC, SBS, and cost-cutting drives. The Prime Minister is on record as saying the ABC “takes everyone’s side but our own”.
Some proponents argue the ABC should be privatised, or the ABC/SBS merged. One common assumption underpinning the privatisation logic is the private sector is more efficient due to the profit motive. I don’t necessarily subscribe to that model, as being a more efficient economic rent-seeker (thus providing higher profits) does not, in and of itself, necessarily require better process efficiency. But I digress.
Back to the Prime Ministers comment: one way to ensure people are on your team is, well, to have them on your team. From a government perspective having team members in the private sector doesn’t actually mean they are on your team. They are at most allies and temporal ones at that. This is because the profit motive and the underlying need to deliver a return to shareholders means, should either of those be challenged by a decision of the government of the day, their allegiance may change and your ally becomes an enemy.
What cannot be argued at the moment, however, is The Australian, the Daily Telegraph, and 2GB are valuable Government allies. Their editorial and opinion provide the most strident support for Government policy. These most valuable allies of the Government have proven one thing: they are efficient at promulgating the message of the Government providing the ‘own team’ support in the media it so clearly needs.
What to do? Well I think the answer lies in looking at how Government Departments have, for many years, adopted practices from private sector organisations. They have done so to adopt ‘best practice’ and, thus, drive efficiencies and effectiveness programs. The Government has already liberated the heads of Departments and is working towards installing likeminded individuals as the Government stamps its authority on the public service.
So how can the Government imbed good practices into the ABC and SBS while also mitigating an ally ‘changing sides’? Nationalise The Australian, Daily Telegraph, and 2GB, and merge these new assets with the ABC and SBS of course.
Lets break the argument down. The Australian has been running at a loss for a while and is currently supported by a generous benefactor in the Murdoch Corporation. It is possible, and rightly so, that Murdoch investors may clamour for the unprofitable arm to be liberated so as to no longer be a drag on the Corporation's returns. The Australian is, of course, currently a valued Government ally, and Australia has a proud history of standing up for and supporting its allies. It makes perfect sense for the Government to bring The Australian onto its balance sheet.
The Daily Telegraph would be more a strategic acquisition. Its reach within Western Sydney is without question and its multi-media skills, in particular the astute use of Photoshop, would be of enormous benefit to the new media organisation the Government could form. 2GB, well there are natural synergies between 2GB and the ABC, given the ABC’s national reach and extensive radio assets. This would be of enormous benefit to the Australia Network; Alan Jones would become the “Voice of Australia” which no doubt would be of benefit to the Government, and there would be no need to run another tender process, saving much needed funds.
Now to the ABC and SBS. By merging these organisations with the newly acquired assets (The Australian, Daily Telegraph, 2GB), the Government has a team player with excellent reach. The injection of private sector experience would be of enormous benefit to the ABC and SBS as they attempt to contain costs, leveraging the expertise of The Australian for example. Non-profitable parts, such as support for "independent" entertainment, could be liberated. There are plenty of private sector crowd-funded options for the likes of "The Chaser". Further, the risk to the Government of having allies becoming enemies would be mitigated and the Prime Minister would have a home-team promoting the Governments message. We could call this new media organisation "Team Australia Network" (TAN for short), conjuring images of the bronzed Australian's of old.
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Thinkyness came about from the charming @Perorationer who often tweets Jan & Noely in the morning with a random article he has found that would make you think, could be anything from Women in the 1800's to a potential world wide wine shortage which we would then discuss, obviously this led on to us tweeting each other #Thinkyness articles [...] more
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