May 28, 2003


Fact-free Phillip Adams today writes about Australia’s least-known, shortest-lived radio program - Radio National’s The Continuing Crisis, featuring me and Imre Salusinszky:

It might be an idea for Salusinszky to confess to readers that he has a conflict of interest when it comes to comment on the ABC in general and on RN in particular. He and his fellow traveller of the hard Right, Tim Blair, who left The Australian for The Bulletin earlier this year, sought employment at RN as a double act.

For just one hour a week, late on Friday nights. We were the sole non-commie presence at RN. As for “hard Right”, both Imre and I have voted for Labor, at state and federal levels, many times.

They were hired in a blaze of publicity to meet the Prime Minister's suggestion that the ABC needed a "right-wing Phillip Adams".

”Blaze of publicity”? Oh, please. Adams is hallucinating.

The duo hired Archbishop George Pell as a regular commentator and gave oodles of air time to fellow conservatives such as Clive Robertson, Peter Costello and P. J. O'Rourke.

Pell wasn’t “hired”; we didn't have Phil's budget. Pell was invited. And his commentary was restricted to sport; Pell was our Australian Football League tipster. Costello, O’Rourke, and Robertson each appeared only once, for about 15 minutes each time. We also gave "oodles of air time" to lefties and Laborites including Mark Latham, Kalle Lasn, Doug Cameron, Tanya Plibersek, and Catharine Lumby. The show's producer was a lefty.

Mistaking self-congratulation for wit, the program did attract an asterisk rating. (Well, two asterisks. One for Salusinszky, one for Blair.) When the program was not renewed, their campaign against the ABC in general – and RN and me in particular – escalated.

I’d love to know the actual ratings. We were never given any details, except that the ratings for our timeslot - 10pm to 11pm on Friday nights, not exactly prime time - had increased over whatever RN had run there previously.

When Blair and Salusinszky insist that nobody listens to RN, they mean, of course, that nobody listened to them. At last count, RN's audience was up 17 per cent – in the five mainland state capitals alone.

Maybe our show enjoyed an increase of that amount over the previous show. It wouldn’t have been difficult. In any case, RN never saw fit to tell us, despite repeated requests.

That takes the weekly audience to about 1 million listeners. To that should be added the 400,000 who tune in via the internet, hearing RN programs via the technology of audio streaming. Then a wide range of RN programs are rebroadcast by the ABC's international service, Radio Australia.

The grand total? Impossible to estimate but it could well exceed 2 million. Either way, even the local audiences are many times greater than 2GB's (580,000) or 2UE's (563,000).

Phil’s “1 million” figure accumulates the same people who listen to RN every day. Divide it by seven. Is he seriously claiming that 2UE and 2GB (local Sydney stations) are out-rated by Radio National? In the Sydney market, RN is 11th in station rankings and rates just a 2.5% market share, compared to GB’s 10.2 and UE’s 9.2. In Melbourne, RN is 13th with only 1.6%. In Brisbane, 2.3%. In Perth, 1.9%. Go here (and register) for more details.

The network Salusinszky holds in such contempt is highly valued by its audience. Of the 11,000 submissions received by the recent Mansfield inquiry into the ABC, 7000 came from RN listeners. As Bob Mansfield stated, on that basis RN seems to be the most appreciated of all ABC services – outranking even ABC TV.

I get more than 7000 hits every day. On that basis, RN seems to be appreciated by as many people who appreciate a free one-man website.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 28, 2003 12:03 PM

You voted Labor? And you get more than 7,000 hits? I'm voting La.............! I can't.

Posted by: Tony.T at May 28, 2003 at 12:23 PM

You voted Labor! I'd prefer to hear that you molest chickens.

Posted by: Son of the 'Scray at May 28, 2003 at 12:30 PM

You voted Labor! I'd prefer to hear that you molest chooks.

Posted by: Son of the 'Scray at May 28, 2003 at 12:31 PM

Geez, whinge much.

If you want ratings, ACNielsen has free breakdowns by timeslot in their archive dating back to 2000. You don't say what time period you were on (and nor does the ABC page you reference), so I can't give you your ratings.

If these figures aren't comprehensive enough for you, you could always use your newspaperman skills and... wait for it... ring up ACNielsen and ask them. A radical proposal, I realise.

And your use of statistics in the last par is just as rubbish as Adams'. The pair of you remind me of two toothless old duffers down the pub, arguing about long-gone footballers while the rest of the bar ignores them.

Posted by: Bon Scott at May 28, 2003 at 12:34 PM

Mistaking self-congratulation for wit, the program did attract an asterisk rating.

Phil better check his zipper; his participles are dangling.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at May 28, 2003 at 12:35 PM

Doesn't Adams' boasting about how educated and affluent the RN audience is make The Australian's point for it: why on earth are scarce public funds being used to provide free entertainment for the rich?

Posted by: Mork at May 28, 2003 at 12:40 PM

Embarrassed Tim? Certainly reads that way. I never had the dubious pleasure of hearing your program, and at 10pm to 11pm Friday nights, it's no wonder. Still, RN are particularly sensitive to their listeners preferences, so one shouldn't wonder at the timeslot or the apparent tenure of the program. If it was anything like your weblog, it's a wonder you got on air at all. Yes indeed, I'm a dedicated RN listener, and I'm certainly not among the rich and affluent. I just like being intelligently informed, which is why RN is so popular, and you so obviously aren't.

Posted by: Niall at May 28, 2003 at 12:58 PM

This would best be settled with dueling pistols at 30 paces, or perhaps clubs at 1 pace. Either or, two journalists bitching back and forth at each other isn't news.

Posted by: Jake D at May 28, 2003 at 01:01 PM


The show aired from 10-11 pm on Friday nights from May through July, 2001 (I'll have to check the exact start-finish dates). I should've written that I WOULD have loved to have known the ratings, at the time the show existed; pursuing them afterwards seemed a waste of time. That said, I might check them up now.

Posted by: tim at May 28, 2003 at 01:04 PM

Re voting Labor: Hawke over Fraser was a no-brainer, as were a few other Labor-Coalition choices of the 80s.

Posted by: tim at May 28, 2003 at 01:05 PM


You're a dedicated RN listener, yet you never heard our show? Some dedication. As for the crappiness of this site, it attracts you every single day.

Posted by: tim at May 28, 2003 at 01:08 PM

Nialls is a masochist

Posted by: slatts at May 28, 2003 at 01:20 PM

I'm a non-dedicated RN listener so I never heard your show. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard RN, that is how non-dedicated I am.

It's not a case of boycotting them coz they are lefties, its a case of I don't listen to the radio much.

Posted by: Scott Wickstein at May 28, 2003 at 02:41 PM

RN good news source but I wish they'd sod off with the book readings and other artsy stuff.

I still reckon RN and news radio should be combined into one uber-news and current affairs station (dump the arts programs), use the spare frequency for a dedicated sports network, which will then free up the local ABC stations from endless hours of test cricket coverage and let them get on with local coverage.

Posted by: Stewart Kelly at May 28, 2003 at 02:49 PM

Hey Timbo,
I listened to you and you are better now than back then.

RN Breakfast is the best radio anywhere and Peter Thompson is the best host. If only Prue would come back and give some decent political insights!

Posted by: homer Paxton at May 28, 2003 at 02:54 PM

What is it about you Tim? Why are you so rabidily hostile toward the ABC ?
Is it because of so called Left Wing bias? Who says it is Left wing? Just you and Alston and a few other clowns who presumably think it should be Right Wing.
Just in case you didn't notice Tim, this country is well served by Right Wing media who get a much greater audience than the AB friggin C. viz - News Corporation and all its Publications, The Daily Telegraph, The Nine Network, Australian Consolidated Press. The Seven Network, The Ten Network, Sydney Commercial Radio.
The ABC is the single lone voice in the Australian Media Landscape that is not beholden to commercial interests, and can therefore speak freely, and you want to gag it. Shame on you and Shame on Alston!

Posted by: Rex Ringschott at May 28, 2003 at 02:56 PM

It appears that Radio National's listenership has been measured by Adams using the tried and tested method he uses to measure casualties of sanctions against Iraq. Anyone who doesn't email him to tell them that they are NOT listening to it is clearly listening to it.

Posted by: Alan Anderson at May 28, 2003 at 03:12 PM

The ABC's the only one we HAVE to pay for Rex. It would probably improve if Tony Greig started selling unframed pictures of"Beautiful Gore Hill".

Posted by: Tony.T at May 28, 2003 at 03:12 PM

Bon's ACNielsen link provides general numbers, for example the Monday-Friday ratings for the 7pm-midnight timslot. Our little one-hour show isn't isolated, therefore we can't deduct precise figures

Still, these stats provide a broad guide. During the weeks our show was aired, RN received its highest ratings in the 7pm-midnight M-F slot for the year.

The four surveys beforehand showed averages across the five major markets of 1.7, 1.86, 1.76, and 2.16.

For the two surveys that cover our show: 2.6 and 2.36.

For the two surveys that followed: 2.28 and 2.3.

It would be ridiculous to take any credit for the rise, as our show occupied just one hour of the 35 aired in that slot each week (four hours were for Adams' own show). But these numbers indicate that at least we didn't cause RN's ratings to decline.

Posted by: tim at May 28, 2003 at 05:18 PM


I know how you must feel, every time I read Adams current stuff I want to slap the silly bitch (and he isn't even writing about me).

Posted by: ZsaZsa at May 28, 2003 at 10:58 PM

You have to pay for many public facillities you may not use, Tony. How many childless taxpayers are arguing they shouldn't have to pay for public schools? How many law-abiding taxpayers are arguing they shouldn't have to pay for prisons? How many healthy taxpayers are arguing they shouldn't have to pay for public healthcare? Wait... scratch that last one.

Posted by: mark at May 30, 2003 at 01:42 AM

Oh, and Tim, your audience stretches across the globe (yea, and a mighty cheer went up...). RN's does not.

Posted by: mark at May 30, 2003 at 01:43 AM

Hmm, Tim's blog, Phillip Adams, and the ABC. Where to begin? Well, for starters, I actually DID listen to "The Continuing Crisis" - and now deeply regret that I never audio taped it. As for Adams, am I the only one who finds it a strange experience to read his column in the Australian each Wednesday? I mean his topic each week will almost always be one of (1) evil John Howard (2) Evil America (3) Sanctified William Deane [incidentally, did anyone else notice Adams referring to Deane as one of the High Court's more Conservative members? Hey Phil, ever actually read the goddamn Mabo decision?] (3) sinful policies on migration or (4) the loss of native Australian culture to foreign (viz US) domination (hey, does this make him some kind of One Nation fellow traveller?) Actually I tend to suspect Adams is actually a right wing fifth columnist - devoted to showing the pseudo-intellectual left as pompous, patronising, intellectually self-indulgent and wholly unaware of what's actually going on in the world. As for the ABC, well, the left has lost the culture war anyway, so why don't we just leave them with RN where they can sit around furiously agreeing with each other forever. It would at least mean "Late Night Live" could continue as normal forever!

Posted by: Steve at May 30, 2003 at 10:28 PM

"The Continuing Crisis" was a continuing crisis and I hope my complaints to the ABC played a small part in its demise .Its production values were low and it deserved to be given the chop , but the worst thing of all was the way that you and that Imre idiot would suck up to some of the quests . Get your head out of their arse I would yell to the radio . R.I.P
I could have done a better right wing show than those two fools and I am a left winger .

Posted by: Peter Weatherall at May 31, 2003 at 12:52 AM

Peter's complaints to the ABC were nothing compared to the complaints from the ABC.

Posted by: tim at June 2, 2003 at 07:59 PM

The ABC is biased to the left, no question. That's why the Continuing Crisis was such an anomaly: it was practically the only thing on (except, say, the Gardening Show) that didn't lean toward the smug chardonnay-sipping left. Much of the ABC's bias is a product of the kind of people who seek out work in a state-run radio/tv network: people who feel commerce is not quite respectable, "big corporations" are blood suckers of the nation, the masses are manipulated by advertising (all except ABC staff and viewers/listeners of course, who are the only superintelligent beings in the country), etc etc. The ABC is a sheltered workshop that speaks to an audience who share its interests and outlook, so its discourse is an endlessly circular exercise in hivethink. Listen to Sandy McCutcheon, Linda Mottram, John Shovelan, Kerry O'Brien, and on and on... Only those who don't share their views, however, would notice the bias. People love to be told what they already believe -- like conspiracy stories about the CIA, Bush-is-stupid tales, America is bombing the whole world nonsense. At the ABC they serve this up for breakfast, lunch and tea, and only people who subscribe to this gumpf can stand to consume it. The problem is, EVERYBODY has to pay for the ABC to pump it out.

Posted by: elly at June 3, 2003 at 11:58 PM