August 06, 2003


The ABC has an annual budget of around $750 million. It is not underfunded. No organisation that can afford to pay Phillip Adams $120,000 to present four hours of radio each week is underfunded. No organisation that can find $1.4 million for a 15-minute weekly examination of right-wing columnists is underfunded.

ABC news and current affairs editor John Cameron complains about the “painful time ahead”, but no “painful time” looms for Adams or Media Watch or Wil Anderson or Amanda Keller ... or most of the ABC. The ABC’s decision to target news and educational programs is spiteful, as The Australian notes:

Instead of concentrating its efforts on areas of broadcasting not covered by commercial television, the ABC has cut back on those areas. This is not sensible financial management. It is a hissy-fit.

But sensible financial management isn’t the ABC way. Here's a damning letter from Peter Hiscock, former executive producer of Foreign Correspondent:

I wrote regularly to the board and senior managers calling for changes to the expensive and time-wasting bureaucracy which held us back. I was ignored each time. Senior management meetings tend to look like factional brawls within the Victorian ALP, with decisions on staffing and programming made on the basis of departmental allies who owed each other favours. I also remember countless examples of unending stupidity: A faulty switch sparked a six month series of high-powered meetings, reports, recommendations and an expensive brochure outlining changes to procedures and protocols and still the switch remained faulty.

A technician refused to allow the use of a brand new editing machine because it might break down and there was no one trained to fix it.

Great. Meanwhile the ABC’s staff clothing allowance runs at $430,000 per year.

So which ABC shows should be cut? Assist the national broadcaster in its budgetary decision-making by voting out one of the following:

The Arts Show
Enough Rope
Media Watch
Critical Mass
Late Night Live
The Glass House
Australian Story

Or, of course, all of the above. Poll at left.

UPDATE. Gareth Parker examines ABC funding. Great work.

Posted by Tim Blair at August 6, 2003 12:29 PM

What about "New Diemsions"? I have dug more interesting things out of my nose than George Fungus and his new age bollocks.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at August 6, 2003 at 12:35 PM

Humphrey B Bear!

Posted by: jonny at August 6, 2003 at 01:03 PM

Glad almost noone voted for Aus Story. That's a great show.

Posted by: Tex at August 6, 2003 at 02:33 PM

Gotta be the insiders. Last we'll ever see of Bolt.


Posted by: Hocheemin at August 6, 2003 at 02:42 PM

You evil right-wing death beasts! Have you taken even one second to think about the children!!!!!!

Posted by: Jerry at August 6, 2003 at 03:38 PM

I vote The Continuing Crisis! Oh, hang on ...

Posted by: kolchak at August 6, 2003 at 04:36 PM

Late Night Live is the Phillip Adams chat show, right? I had to vote for that one, in part because it's the only ABC show I've ever experienced (when Tim linked to RealAudio of Adams interviewing Margo, Fisk and Dick Neville) and in part because that one experience was enough to make me contemptuous of Big Phil forever. If I were only familiar with Big Phil through his newspaper columns, I'd've thought his most obnoxious recent sin was that column about Krauthammer in which Phil committed the same sort of journalism that got Jayson Blair fired; having heard LNL, though, I know that nothing tops Phil's sin of simply making his smarmy voice available on the public airwaves.

Australians should count themselves lucky that no Americans have ever heard of Phillip Adams, other than folks like me who encounter him through links on Australian blogs, because of Big Phil were better known here, people might start rethinking their policy of buying Australian wines instead of French.

By the way, I see that the Late Night Live host bio says that Big Phil "left school in his mid-teens" and is "largely self-educated". He should sue himself for malpractice.

Posted by: Combustible Boy at August 6, 2003 at 05:11 PM

breaking news....

CSIRO working on developing sentient Australian citizens who can use both ABC & commercial media channels equally.

Further, they will be given the ability to determine slant & bias for themselves. Those persons unable to determine bias and its effects for themselves will be submitted to shrill rantings from ministers & web-logs to remind them when they're being BRAINWASHED BY THE EVIL HUMOURLESS left/moderate conspiracy.

Personal note - the potatoes I saw growing on Gardening Australia last week were definitely left leaning - someone tell Alston.

Posted by: chico o'farrill at August 6, 2003 at 05:30 PM

Gee, Combustible, are you or your friends and compatriots buying any British wine? (Yes, yes, I know.) I guess if more Americans knew about Bob Fisk, that would stop quick smart. I personally am buying nothing American until they bag Rush and flush Newt.

Get a grip, branleur.

Posted by: Buddy Ebsen at August 6, 2003 at 06:04 PM

Don't vote for Media Watch. It will make David Marr even more gleefully sanctimonious to win and cause the left to make accusations of censorship.

Posted by: pooh at August 6, 2003 at 06:43 PM


Phil was "largely self-educated" from the buffet.

Damn, that was a cheap shot.

Buy the wine Phil wouldn't drink. An Australian one.

Posted by: The at August 6, 2003 at 06:44 PM

As much as I'd like to see media watch go, it would be a serious crime to allow the continuing broadcast of "The Glass House".

It's like televising a meeting of the UWA Socialist Coalition, except that the protagonists at UWA are intelligent enough to graduate high school.

Posted by: Yobbo at August 6, 2003 at 08:39 PM

As much as I'd like to see media watch go, it would be a serious crime to allow the continuing broadcast of "The Glass House".

It's like televising a meeting of the UWA Socialist Coalition, except that the protagonists at UWA are intelligent enough to graduate high school.

But thats exactly what makes it so funny!!

Posted by: Murdoch Software Engineer Std at August 6, 2003 at 10:15 PM

That fucking glass house shits me. Sickens me how the left try to market themselves as the voice of 'youth' of the country, when all we hear is that beady-eyed little fuck Wil Anderson make John Howard jokes. Reminds me of Paul McDermott, they're both just smarmy little pricks.

Still, the show had cutbacks from the beginning; they never gave Corrine Grant a brain.

Posted by: Opticon at August 6, 2003 at 10:47 PM

The sad thing is, I'm not happy with bias in the ABC, but I hardly ever watch anything other than on ABC and SBS.

Posted by: Andjam at August 6, 2003 at 11:34 PM

The ABC should get back to basics: The Goodies at 6pm, Dr Who at 6:30. News at 7, followed by a black-and-white movie from the 1930s that you've never heard of. Then station close until Playschool the next morning.

7 days a week.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at August 7, 2003 at 12:54 AM

Pixy: Throw in "Monkey" and I'm with you.

Posted by: Yobbo at August 7, 2003 at 01:54 AM

My vote was for Bukkake Live-sorry-Critical Mass [turbation]. Putting several smug academics [sour day care functionaries] on a cheaply made formica panel only makes their phony anglophile accents and clueless views on TV shows and movies [delivered in the solemn style of Charlton Heston delivering the commandmants] seem even more pathetic. That this program reveals the endemic mediocritity of academia in this country is its only quality.

Posted by: Christopher Valentine at August 7, 2003 at 02:06 AM

I can sympathise with the idea of cutting them all and a lot of them are shite - no doubt about it. Media Watch and Late Night Live really stand out as ultra-biased lefty barrow-pushing and desrver special attention. Public money should not be spent on such partisan and unbalanced rubbish.

However, I'm with Tex. "Australian Story" is a good example of an ABC program. Sure, it's not heavyweight political but it carries some truly engaging personal stories. And "Insiders" is an a good political program that consciously tries to present a range of political opinion and competeing views. I am a regular ABC watcher too and I really appreciate hearing at least some exposure of moderate and right-of-centre opinions and analysis on "Insiders". I just wish that the ABC could emulate this in its major current affairs content.


Posted by: Bob Bunnett at August 7, 2003 at 08:58 AM

Pixi and Yobbo
Throw in Supercar and it's the ABC of old. A black and white puppet series made by Gerry Anderson when he was still practising for Thunderbirds, it had a rawness and total lack of PC storylines that made it a sheer joy. One storyline had the heroes ending up in a cannibal's pot in darkest Africa surrounded by jabbering natives before being rescued by their pet Monkey Mitch.

Posted by: pooh at August 7, 2003 at 12:57 PM

I voted Critical Mass - for being plain f_ing boring. I really really get annoyed by the Glass House - Corinne and Wil's politics are essentially of the 'blame the yanks' variety - but heck, they can be funny sometimes...

Posted by: TimT at August 7, 2003 at 02:52 PM

Opticon there are two differences between Wil Anderson and Paul McDermott: one's gay and one can sing.

Posted by: Fred at August 7, 2003 at 03:27 PM