Thursday 28th of January 2021

funny like an undertaker...

the undertaker

Some people already regret the departure of Mitch Fifield as the minister for lack of communications... Back in May last year (2019) when appointed "minister for communication" to replace Fifield, Crikey had this to say about Paul Fletcher :

Congratulations to Paul Fletcher: he will very likely be the last communications minister in anything close to the traditional sense.

His job over the next three years will be to serve as undertaker for traditional media in Australia while streaming video and audio companies do to Foxtel, free-to-air TV and and commercial radio what Facebook and Google did to print media.

The media industry’s fawning reaction to Fletcher’s appointment was best summed up in the statement from Free TV Australia CEO Bridget Fair (a former Seven Network lobbyist) who gushed:

Paul Fletcher is an inspired choice for this portfolio. He is outstandingly well qualified and I warmly congratulate him on his appointment. It is hard to imagine anyone better suited to take on the challenges in the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors at this challenging time of great change. Minister Fletcher’s thoughtful and considered approach to policy development will stand us all in good stead and Free TV looks forward to working closely with him in the years ahead on the important issues facing the broadcasting industry.

Laying it on a bit thick, wasn’t she? The US-controlled Ten Network offered its own fawning statement:

Paul Fletcher is a great choice for the Communications portfolio. He is smart, pragmatic and has a deep understanding of our industry. Paul is definitely the right person to be dealing with the big and complex issues that need to be sorted in this area.


How much “dealing” Fletcher can do is questionable. The most powerful media groups in Australia are beyond his control — the mega-techs led by Facebook, Google and Amazon and the streaming giants Netflix, Disney Now, CBS All Access, HBO, Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon. Locally, there’s only Stan to compete. The government can pass as many new laws as it wants to, it can try and curtail and punish big tech companies but they are beyond its true reach, and business in Australia isn’t that vital to the giants. It’s US and European regulation that keeps Facebook and Google executives up at night, not Australian.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is about to hand down its Digital Platforms report, which is expected to recommend dramatic changes to regulations governing global online services including Google and Facebook. It should also recommend changes that will affect local media groups such as News Corp, Nine/Fairfax and the national broadcasters. These changes could see all media platforms — legacy, digital/social media and others — captured in a new regulatory regime.

The megatechs will not worry. To use an old phrase, they interpret regulation as damage, and route around it accordingly. And streaming business can’t be pushed out of Australia, they can’t be boxed in and regulated. Short of blocking the internet completely, they can’t be stopped from eroding the legacy media companies (except AM radio, which is well-placed to resist the onslaught from outside).

The big decisions for Fletcher will involve the future of the legacy companies — particularly Seven West Media and News Corp’s Foxtel. Foxtel’s financial state is weak. Management have made repeated mistakes that have undermined its financial structure and resources, and it continues to lose subscriber revenue to streaming. Meanwhile, Kerry Stokes may be looking to offload a problematic broadcasting asset that faces a future of declining revenue and ageing audiences.

Then there’s the ABC. Here, Fletcher doesn’t have a lot of work to do: the Coalition has already successfully gutted the broadcaster and cowed its management. It has installed a popular chair to pretend to voters that all is well. Fletcher’s task will be to trim the ABC’s budget further and make sure that management and staff understand what must happen to any journalist who scrutinises the government too closely. 

Otherwise, Fletcher gets the best seat in the house at an extended funeral of the Australian media sector.


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a stickler for rubbery figures...


We are told by Paul Fletcher staff that he is a stickler for figures but...


NO ONE IS LAUGHING, like in the days of The Fax of Life, a play that tanked — "something of a nightmare" for a small crew of fresh-faced uni graduates (of which Paul was one)... One does not know how a budding actor becomes a bullshit artist for the Liberal Party, but this is what Paul Fletcher says in his humour laced report on the ABC funding: Yet, 


There has not been a cut to the ABC’s funding
Some ABC journalists and Labor politicians argue there has been a “cut” to the ABC’s funding. They

cite the outdated May 2018 budget papers. Here’s what that budget paper says4:

In order to ensure the ABC continues to find back-office efficiencies the Government will pause indexation of the ABC’s operational funding. This will result in savings to the Budget of $83.7 million over three years from 2019-20 to 2021-22.

To cite this as evidence of a “cut” in the current triennium is wrong. 


FUCK!... THIS IS A CUT OF FUNDING!... BULLSHIT FROM FLETCHER! And this has been going on since Tony Abbott promised not to cut the funding to the ABC and straight away cut it... This is why the ABC has had to sack more than 400 staff over the budget of the Liberal Government (that is hell-bent in destroying the ABC) and recently as much as an extra 87 senior people got the boot... Please don't talk shit, Paul, even if you say it with a dash of humour...


"Back-office efficiencies" at the ABC have already killed many jobs to the bone... and the ABC is now ill-funded to the heart... Fletcher's argument is complete crap...




Les Miserables - Killing the ABC in a time of national emergency

by Quentin Dempster

Empty chairs at empty tables …where my friends will sing no more. (Les Miserables - the musical).

The departure of many of the ABC’s most experienced journalists, producers and presenters has immiserated the public broadcaster.

Eighty-six have gone or are going from newsrooms and current affairs programs in the latest round of budget cuts. They are among up to 250 staff made redundant as part of an ABC Board five-year restructure said to continue the ABC’s transformation to a digital content creator and distributor.

Many of the departed are in late career and are taking personal financial advantage of industry-standard redundancy packages based on years of service plus accumulated long service leave. But many also are in early or mid-career and, given the vaporisation of media jobs through both digital disruption and the COVID-19 pandemic, inevitably, will be lost to journalism and content creation forever.


This is the reality of the Liberal budget "increase" (cuts) to the ABC...:



If Fletcher were smart, he would give the ABC far more money so it could compete much better on creating local original content... That would be a better way to control the "Big Techs"... but it looks that Paul is still living in the days of his absurd days on stage...

scomo is still trying to kill off your ABC...

The national broadcaster is again calling on the federal government to extend special funds for journalism or risk putting more jobs on the chopping block.

ABC managing director David Anderson has raised concerns state border closures could hurt the broadcaster’s ability to move staff around to cover extreme weather over summer.

At a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday, Mr Anderson answered questions over whether the ABC’s funding was increasing or decreasing.

He said the broadcaster’s current $43.7 million enhanced news-gathering services funds would expire in the 2022/23 financial year.

The money was spread over three years and supports 74 jobs.

The broadcaster first received the package in 2013 and it has been extended each time it’s due to end.

Mr Anderson said that without knowing in advance, it was hard for the ABC to plan.

“The funding has enabled us to deliver more tailored and local news to communities and to bring news from across the country to a national audience,” he said.

“Prior to the expiry of the initiative we will continue to make the case for this funding to be permanently incorporated into the ABC’s operating funding base.”

The ABC has felt the impact of an indexation freeze on its funding, which results in its budget increasing but not in line with how much it would have if indexation continued.

“They (funds) are not increasing to the tune in which our costs would be increasing, hence we’ve had to find ongoing savings,” Mr Anderson said.

The broadcaster planned for 250 job losses this year because of the funding cut, but Mr Anderson said instead 229 people have been made redundant.

He thanked his team for shifting focus this year to boost the ABC’s bushfire and coronavirus coverage.

“But this doesn’t mean we can always please everyone,” Mr Anderson said.

“Our critics relentlessly try to make us part of a cultural debate most Australians do not find relevant or helpful. The ABC is bigger than this debate.”



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the twit disabled responses to his tweet...

The minister for communications Paul Fletcher has asked ABC chair Ita Buttrose if the Four Corners program which alleged inappropriate conduct by two ministers met the standards of accurate and impartial journalism.

In a lengthy letter Fletcher posed 15 detailed questions and asked the board to explain why a “consensual relationship” between a politician and a staff member which took place before the so-called bonk ban was imposed in 2018 was considered newsworthy in the Four Corners program Inside the Canberra Bubble.

In 2018 the then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull made sexual relationships between ministers and their staff a breach of the ministerial code.

Fletcher made the letter public by posting it on Twitter, but avoided receiving responses by disabling replies to the tweet.


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See also:

to bonk, or not to bonk, that is the question...