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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

neoliberalism and the media « Previous | |Next »
August 25, 2006

Georgina Born haas an article in the New Matilda policy section. It is entitled Birt's medicine has made the BBC ill and though it is about Britain a paragraph describes the changes in the media landscape. She says:

When we come to the late eighties, we encounter issues such as deregulation and the growth of new technologies. We can see from the end of the eighties on and gathering pace through the nineties a tremendously important change, which is that the balance of the broadcasting ecology in Britain shifted in this period quite rapidly from being primarily public service oriented with a highly regulated commercial public service broadcasting sector, to being primarily commercially oriented, with deregulation, a much “lighter touch” regulation and frantic competition among the commercial broadcasters and Channel 4 for profitable demographics (which means young men).

That shift to a neo-liberal mode of governance also applies to Australia and helps to explain the continual attacks (by the Murdoch Press) on the ABC as a public broadcaster in a predominantly market economy.

You can see the attack in a recent Quadrant editorial entitled The New Media and the (Same) Old Media. It says:

The ABC is of course the source of much of the criticism of current and any possible changes in media policy, along with other interests, such as those of actors and all others involved in the film and television industries professionally. These, together with the educated elites of the country, firmly believe that they have the right to employment in their industries, and to have the product provided at public expense or as a kind of tax on the commercial stations (as with prescribed local content rules). The supposed right to public entertainment by free-to-air television is deeply ingrained across the community, which is used to enjoying the fruits of advertising—tolerating which is the price we have to pay, more or less unwillingly (some people enjoy advertising in itself, as well as appreciating the opportunities for comfort breaks).

I'm not suggesting that the ABC does not have problems. It does, and they are similar as to those faced by the BBC. Born says:
The first is a cultural problem – a question about whether the BBC is committed to a kind of elitist model of cultural development or elevation. Is it overly homogenous?...And finally there is the economic problem: that is, how to justify public funding, the universal nature of the license fee given the inevitable imperfections of universality in the audience. That is, parts of the audience that do no use the BBC as much as others, notably working class, ethnic minorities, young working class women, a series of demographics that the BBC has been worried about for at least 15 yrs and tries to reach, but with limited success

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:59 PM | | Comments (0)