Monday 24th of January 2022

destroying the ABC has been on the liberals' (CONservatives) mind for a long time...


The ABC is finally stepping up its defense, with managing director Michelle Guthrie yesterday giving a speech to the Melbourne Press Club, saying the ABC was not a "political punching bag".

The speech was mainly notable as the first substantial defence Guthrie has given of the broadcaster since the federal budget was handed down, with a funding freeze that will amount to $83 million less funding over three years.


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why the ABC is more important than the liberal bums...

ABC Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie
Melbourne Press Club, 19 June 2018

Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. The work of the Melbourne Press Club, the platform and support you provide for the discussion of ideas, issues and the craft of journalism are invaluable.

Last year, I attended the opening of the NSW Chapter of the Australian Media Hall of Fame, a fantastic initiative by this forum to bring to a broader stage the great traditions of journalism and the women and men who, as journalists and storytellers, have left their mark on the fabric of Australia.

I'll demonstrate just a touch of ABC bias here. I was thrilled at the roll call of our journalists who were among those honoured that night: MarkColvin, Ian Carroll, Caroline Jones, Alan McGilvray, Chris Masters, and Kerry O’Brien.

These are hallowed names, as recognisable as ABC brands as our famous lissajous logo. They, and others acknowledged by the Club, have made an indelible contribution to our collective understanding of Australia and the world.

We know and applaud their attributes and achievements: their deep knowledge of audiences and the issues that are relevant to the lives of the community; their relentless drive to ensure that the institutions and processes which are the foundations of our democratic system work to the benefit of that community; their determination to provide a voice for the powerless, the weak and the intimidated; their ability to shine the light on malfeasance and corruption.

What I also admire about them is their ability to get to the nub of an issue, to focus on its true implications and to frame it in terms that are easily understood by all Australians.

In a complex world it is too easy for the powerful to do their work in dark corners: to cynically use so-called narrowcasting messages that have a direct appeal to certain targeted audiences, while conveying an entirely different message to others; to rely on rhetoric that doesn’t match actions.

Good journalists call that out. Today, I want to channel some of that skill and emphasise some real facts in what has become an increasingly febrile debate over the value and future of the ABC.

This is a debate that affects real people. I talk here of my very valuable colleagues, who have displayed enormous resolve, dedication and commitment over the past few years in the face of continued criticism. But I refer also to the people of Australia, who regard the ABC as one of the great national institutions and who deeply resent it being used as a punching bag by narrow political, commercial or ideological interests.

I am proud of the ABC. I am proud of the work we do, the privileged position we hold in Australian history and our way of life; and of the value we bring, not only to audiences, but to the wider citizenry.

My aim in this speech is to demonstrate that value and to dismantle some of the arguments that are being used by critics to attack the national public broadcaster.

The anti-ABC case has been crystallised in two recent developments - the launch of a tome by two people associated with the IPA calling for the sale of the national broadcaster, and last weekend’s policy motion at the Liberal Party federal council meeting in Sydney demanding the “privatisation” of the ABC.  

The premise behind the policy motion, as stated by its advocates is that there is no redeemable value in the public investment in the ABC; that the commercial media sector would benefit from a so-called level playing field and that the nation as a whole would be better off; that the market, in the end, will provide.

Those very same arguments are being used to propel the competitive neutrality and efficiency reviews that have been imposed on the public broadcasters. So, it would be negligent of me to ignore the policy motion, even if others are keen to downplay it.

The argument seems to carry a misplaced notion of both privatisation and conservatism. But, more importantly it completely ignores the public value of the ABC, both in direct dollar terms but also as far as the wider public good remit.

What price do you put on public trust in an independent, commercial-free news organisation at a time of fragmentation and disruption? As the Prime Minister himself noted at the Liberal Party council meeting, it is difficult to establish the facts in a disputed media landscape full of echo chambers and “fake news” outlets.

What price do you put on an ABC devoted to serving the nation - across its vast expanse and through a myriad of services, with quality and distinctiveness as a hallmark?  This, at a time when the pressures of the new landscape are forcing our commercial colleagues into a relentless focus on their profitability.

What price do you put on an almost 86-year history of service that has the ABC as one of the most respected and trusted institutions in the country? An institution that provides valuable diversity to the media sector and, through its innovation, one that has driven many of the platforms and services that we know and take for granted?

Just last week, we marked iview’s 10th birthday. For years, the ABC stood alone in committing to a catch-up service, acknowledging that online presented a new way, free of schedules, for audiences to watch programs. The ABC has pioneered the use of websites to complement broadcasting, in its commitment to podcasting and its use of apps and social media.

I think the public regards the ABC as a priceless asset, more valuable now than ever in its history. I can appreciate that the ABC would fetch a high price in a commercial market. But does the public want a new media organisation that compromises quality and innovation for profit? Does the commercial sector want a new advertising behemoth in its midst? I think not.

For those who prefer an abacus-type approach to this debate, I have some fresh information. How do you put a price on the value of the ABC? In pursuit of that answer, the ABC has commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to do some research. Their report is still being compiled and will be released next month. The early findings are interesting. They show that the ABC contributed more than $1 billion to the Australian economy in the last financial year - on a par with the public investment in the organisation.  Far from being a drain on the public purse, the audience, community and economic value stemming from ABC activity is a real and tangible benefit.

Of that $1 billion, more than a third is economic support for the broader media ecosystem. Far from being Ultimo-centric, the ABC is boosting activity across the country. Recent examples include the filming of Mystery Road in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, and the production of Rosehaven outside Hobart.

Deloitte calculates that the ABC is helping to sustain more than 6000 full-time equivalent jobs across the economy. It means that for every 3 full-time equivalent jobs created by the ABC, there are another 2 supported in our supply chain – local artists, writers, technicians, transport workers and many more. In hard figures, the research shows that the ABC helps to sustain 2,500 full-time equivalent jobs in addition to the 4000 women and men who are directly employed by the public broadcaster.

When broken down this equates to more than 500 additional jobs in production companies, over 400 jobs elsewhere in the broadcast sector, and close to 300 full-time equivalent jobs in the professional services.

Amidst the debate over the ABC’s purpose and its funding we should all remember that there are 2,500 jobs outside public broadcasting at risk in any move to curtail our remit and activities.

The related argument is that the $1 billion is not well spent, that the ABC must be forced to “live with its means”. Again, let’s go to the facts. Transmission costs to deliver the benefits of public broadcasting to all Australians are fixed and expensive. The actual amount that we have to spend on content is well below that $1 billion figure. The ABC’s per capita funding has halved in real terms in 30 years. And technological change is demanding ongoing investment to meet rapidly changing audience needs.

This financial year, 92% of the ABC’s budget will be spent on making content, supporting content makers and distribution. This is a result that we are very proud of and I suspect many of our commercial counterparts would aspire to.

It is the direct result of strategic management and the paring back of non-content related support costs. Thirty years ago, the ABC had five platforms and 6,000 people working around the country. Today, Your ABC has two-thirds the number of people operating six times the number of platforms and services with half the real per capita funding.

ABC News Channel, iview, triple j Unearthed and Double J are just some of the services created from an ongoing drive to identify production and back office efficiencies and to pour that money back into content, rewarding our audiences. It was the strategy we employed so effectively last year, generating efficiencies that financed our content innovation fund and regional investment.

I am concerned by the accusation that this latest 1 per cent efficiency dividend can easily be accommodated by the ABC. It ignores the accumulation of efficiency takes by Canberra over the past four years and the fact that these efficiencies rob the ABC of its ability to finance new content and innovation. This whittling away of our funding represents a real opportunity cost and, in the end, serves only to punish those audiences.

There are two other fallacies that need to be addressed. The first is that the ABC should be stripped back to servicing gaps in the media market, basically becoming a market failure operator. The second is that the ABC serves only sectional interests.

Every day I’m reminded how important the ABC is to all Australians. Some commentators and politicians like to pigeonhole our audience as being of a particular political bent or social strata.

In the two years since I’ve been in this role, I have been constantly reminded how wrong that is. Of course, there are the undisputed figures: the 12 million Australians who will watch ABC TV this week; the nearly 5 million who will listen to ABC Radio; the 13 million ABC podcast downloads that now happen every month.

If all those listeners and viewers were on the one side of politics, there wouldn’t be much politicking left to do.

I note also the findings of the recent Reuters Digital News Report. Australia may have an increasingly polarised media sector, but ABC Television attracts viewers from across the political spectrum for its news coverage.

This is buttressed by my own experiences. Last week, as I was collecting lost luggage at the airport, the very helpful man behind the counter began by telling me how much he loves the ABC. “I watch ABC News all the time,” he said.

And there is June, in her mid-70s, who lives on the NSW mid-north coast. She recently wrote to tell us that our gripping Mystery Road mini-series has seen her do an iview binge-watch for the very first time. The first of many binges I hope, June.

It confirms for me what an important role the ABC plays for Australians no matter their age, where they live or what they do. It’s a strong ongoing endorsement of the quality and diversity of the programs that we create. And it shows that we are fulfilling our purpose, which is definitely not to play the role of a market failure operator.

There really is no excuse for getting that wrong. If you take the time to read our Charter – and it’s not long - it’s there in black and white. As the independent national public broadcaster, our purpose is to provide a balance between broadcasting programs of wide appeal as well as specialised interest. 

It means we are here to broadcast the New Year’s Eve fireworks as we do every year, bringing together nearly 4 million Australian viewers. But we are also here to deliver award-winning children’s content, as well as ABC Jazz, Classic FM and much more.

It’s a balance between the two that we navigate with care and always with the needs of our audiences in mind.

This is what public broadcasting is all about. It’s not about profits, or even ratings necessarily, but about providing the distinctive programs that Australians young and old, left and right, rich and poor, in Bourke and in Brisbane, both want and need.

Given what is happening on the global stage, that commitment is now more important than ever. In the US last week, the courts approved what’s been called the mega-merger between Time-Warner and AT&T. The new company will be worth an estimated 143 billion dollars and will have a vast content library that it will own and distribute.  In fact, every one of the 5 largest global media organisations are pursuing mergers in order to build scale for survival.

In the face of such consolidation, in all likelihood over a short space of time there may be just a handful of international media giants– yes, I'm including FAANGS (being Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) in that group - that will be based in the US and will create and distribute the vast majority of the world’s content, both news and entertainment.

What does this mean in Australia? It means original Australian content and Australian voices will be more valuable than ever. It also means that the pressure on our domestic commercial media counterparts is only going to increase.

Two years ago, Facebook and Google were already collecting 40 per cent of Australian advertising dollars. Those dollars would previously have gone to the traditional television, radio and print media operators. The figure will only have increased since then.

This and the increasing competition for content from the global players, each with a production budget in the billions, is driving the free-to-airs to adopt play-safe strategies - trying to secure big audiences around tentpole events in news, reality and sports.

Amid all of this upheaval, Australia has a strong, independent public broadcaster driven by women and men who create original, distinctive and high quality Australian content every day, all over the country.

It’s an organisation that contributes as much as $1 billion annually to Australia’s creative and broader industries; that directly employs 4000 Australians and helps to sustain jobs for 2,500 more; that provides the only Australia-wide platform for our national conversations, culture and stories.

It isn’t by luck that this exists. It is thanks to the collective vision of Australians nearly 86 years ago. They decided to create a public broadcast service to operate alongside the commercial media, increasing the diversity available for everyone. So much has changed about our world since then, but the basic premise for the ABC remains the same.

And the facts show Australians overwhelmingly value the outcome of this foresight: 82% of Australians look to the ABC as their trusted source of information; 78% cite the ABC as an important contributor to our national identity; and critically, 77% of Australians think a healthy ABC is essential for Australia’s future.

That regard is a precious commodity at a time when trust in our institutions is so rare.

Next week we will make our submission to the Government’s competitive neutrality inquiry looking at the role of the ABC and the SBS and how we operate alongside our commercial counterparts. I’m confident we are operating in accordance with our Charter and the principles of competitive neutrality as they apply to public service broadcasting. We are a distinct and important part of Australia’s modern media ecosystem. I'm proud of our contribution and of the women and men who create it.

As the charter requires, we take into account the services commercial broadcasters provide. We invest in material that is distinctive and original and which is of both wide appeal and specialised interest. And, alongside Nine, Ten, Seven and Foxtel, we provide an independent alternative.

I was one of the 800,000 viewers who chose to watch Mystery Road a few Sunday nights ago instead of an interview with Barnaby Joyce. Who knew Australians would choose a well-scripted and produced drama over the kitchen-sink exploits of a politician? Well-told local drama remains a priority for the ABC and clearly provided a welcome option for many Australians that evening.

Before finishing, I’d like to describe another recent program that I think epitomises the value of what the ABC provides. Over three nights last month, the second series of Stargazing Live brought together 2.6 million viewers and 46,000 amateur astronomers. In the process, we broke a Guinness World Record and discovered a new supernova that may help to recalibrate the age of the universe.

All over the country, Australians gathered in their backyards, school playgrounds and local parks to gaze together at the moon for 10 minutes. In Wudinna, South Australia, more than half the town’s population took part. 

Tens of thousands of Australians were introduced to new astronomical knowledge. For many, it has changed the way they look at the stars forever. And with the recent launch of the new Australian space agency, there’s a possibility that perhaps, more than one of our future homegrown astronauts were taking part somewhere.

Who else but the ABC would even attempt such a broadcast?

As a nation, we could choose not to have the ABC; or we could hobble it so that it becomes the market failure organisation it was never intended to be. Inherent in the drive against the independent public broadcaster, is a belief that it can be pushed and prodded into different shapes to suit the prevailing climate. It can’t. Nor should it be.

The ABC’s great value is its ability to call on its composite strengths to service the nation. History elsewhere has shown that if you start tampering with the formula, you risk destroying it. And, as I hope I've demonstrated today, the nation would suffer as a consequence.

Each of the ABC journalists celebrated by the MPC’s Media Hall of Fame at last year’s ceremony, had made important contributions to our national conversations. It would be a step back, especially in these turbulent times, if future journalists found it more difficult to make such important contributions.   

Thank you.

teaching the young "liberals" the value of democrapcy...

Whether or not the Turnbull Government intends to sell the ABC, Political Editor Dr Martin Hirst argues that the Liberal Party’s internal debate on the issue highlights the democratic deficit at the heart of our system.

WE LIVE IN a democracy, right?

It just seems like common sense, something so secure and simple it’s hardly worth thinking about, right?

But what if I told you that what we have is not a democracy?

Would you be outraged? Would you think I’m some sort of unhinged lefty? Or would you be prepared to at least consider my arguments?

I’ll assume the latter, because you’re still reading. Aren’t you?

My argument, in a nutshell, is that despite the formal features of our political system matching most aspects of the dictionary definition, any sense of real democratic practice is an illusion. This is because our apparently democratic institutions are functionally designed to give power to money, not people.

Let’s start with an example from last week.

We will, or we will not, sell the ABC

I don’t know about you, but I was not at all surprised when the Liberal Party’s Federal Council voted overwhelmingly to sell-off the embattled national broadcaster at its annual conference on the weekend of 16-17 June.

The Liberal Party apparatus has been captured by conservative forces inspired by the Institute of Public Affairs and loyal to factions led by Tony Abbott in NSW, Peter Dutton in Queensland and Eric Abetz in Tasmania.

We can only expect this rightward drift to continue into the future, too. Moderates were roundly defeated in votes for the incoming executive and the Young Liberals grouping engineered the vote. The overlap between wealthy student apparatchiks and the besuited, bespectacled cadre of the IPA is very evident in the ranks of the Young Libs.


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protecting the abc from the mad libs...

Much ado has been made over the bid to privatise the ABC, but Laurie Patton reckons the real game plan is about destroying the organisation.

THE ABC EARNS around $100 million a year from its commercial activities (mainly ABC shops). Its annual operating budget is more than a billion dollars.

The organisation would not exist without the triennial funding provided by taxpayers (not by Treasurer Scott Morrison, who this week ludicrously claimed that he funded the ABC). You can’t privatise a business that doesn’t make a profit. So let’s call the demand from last weekend’s Liberal Party conference for what it really is; effectively a proposal to close the ABC and sell off its assets, the prime of which would be its broadcast spectrum.

But even that is hardly practical, or likely. Ironically, while the ABC haters with their ideological objections to public broadcasting would like to see it happen, there would be little or no appetite from the commercial television sector for starters.

Kerry Packer spent more than two decades successfully lobbying Federal Governments to delay the introduction of Pay TV in order to protect his investment in the Nine Network.

There has been talk for even longer than that about a possible fourth commercial network. Not likely as long as the three incumbents retain their all-powerful grip on the nation’s media policy.

Free TV, which represents the commercial stations, has frequently opposed moves to see the ABC accept advertising because the revenue would have to come at the expense of its members.

Online subscription services Netflix and Stan are already putting financial pressure on the free-to-air sector, with forecasts of Ten’s demise only slightly off the radar but ready to re-emerge should new owners, the American CBS network, lose interest.

It’s taken ABC boss, Michelle Guthrie, far too long to enter the public debate about the organisation she leads. Chairman, Justin Milne, has likewise been largely out of sight. One has to wonder if it was not principally the prospect of a staff revolt that forced Guthrie to finally speak out yesterday [Jun 18, 2018].

But speak out she did. Quoting a forthcoming report by Deloitte Access Economics, commissioned by the ABC, which concludes it contributes a billion dollars a year to the national economy.

Another irony is the fact that outside the major metropolitan cities the ABC is actually held in high regard by everyone. So the Nationals will hardly want to be seen to part of a push to silence what for many in the bush is their only source of local news. They’re already firmly on the back foot given their complicity in the emasculation of the NBN.


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as guthrie was improving her strides at the ABC...

The ABC Chairman has confirmed that the national broadcaster's Managing Director Michelle Guthrie has left her position.

David Anderson, the ABC's Director of Entertainment and Specialist, will serve as Acting Managing Director until a formal search process finds Ms Guthrie's successor.

According to a statement released by the ABC, the decision was made when the directors resolved that it was not in the best interests of the ABC for Ms Guthrie to continue to lead the organisation.

ABC Chairman Justin Milne said the decision was made in the "long-term interests of our own people and the millions of Australians who engage with ABC content every week".

"This decision has been driven by our commitment to deliver the best possible outcomes for our loyal audiences and the best possible experience for our own people," he said.

"We understand that transitions can be disruptive in the short term, however the ABC is fortunate to have an experienced and capable executive team that will provide continuity in the months ahead."

He thanked Ms Guthrie for her hard work since taking the position in May 2016.

"The board wishes to thank Michelle for her contribution to the ABC," Mr Milne said.

"We are very grateful for all her hard work."


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Read from top. Note that the board of the ABC is mostly "right-wing leaning" despite being a-political... Michelle, after having been given the ABC "poisoned chalice" and having been a Newscorp executive, was really coming into understanding the demands of public broadcasting. My feelings are that she had to know that the right-wing pressures were bullshit and started to become more of an "independent-agent" with social justice understanding as per the ABC charter. This might have pushed the board to press the dismiss button. 

private enterprise always tried to neuter the ABC...

The ABC Chairman Justin Milne has challenged the nation to decide whether it wants a public broadcaster.

Speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sydney, Milne outlined the broadcaster’s history of fights with the private sector dating back to the days of Sir Keith Murdoch and warned the ABC’s future would be in doubt should its digital activities be curtailed.

Milne’s comments come after Fairfax accused the ABC of undermining the sustainability of commercial news journalism earlier this week and public rallies supporting the ABC starting last weekend.

“Allow me to rewind back to 1934. Just months after the ABC was created, the proper role of public broadcasting was first debated when Sir Keith Murdoch bitterly opposed the Corporation’s right to broadcast an air race held to celebrate Melbourne’s centenary,” Milne said.

“In the 1950s, as debate flared about whether Australia really needed television, there was again lobbying against the ABC. In the shadow of the Cold War, some warned darkly about the menace of establishing a state-controlled television service, and they came perilously close to achieving their aim. The constant refrain from commercial rivals was that the ABC competed ‘improperly’ with private enterprise.

“Australia has reached another decision point in respect of public broadcasting just like those of the past. The first was whether to establish an ABC, then whether to equip it to deliver a news service independent of the commercial media barons, then once again whether to invest in a public television service. And now, as we enter a digital age, Australia must decide whether it wants an ABC fit for the future, and if so, what investments the nation is willing to make to achieve that.”

Milne’s speech followed managing director of the ABC Michelle Guthrie last month warning the government and Liberal Party that Australians would not tolerate the broadcaster being a political ‘punching bag’.

In her speech to the Melbourne Press Club, Guthrie also criticised the Federal government’s pressures on the ABC’s funding and the Liberal Party’s calls to privatise the broadcaster.


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a political move?


Sacked ABC boss Michelle Guthrie says she is "devastated" and has threatened to sue after she was removed by the board of directors halfway through her five-year term.

Ms Guthrie, the first woman to helm the national broadcaster, said no one had raised concerns with her about how she was handling the ABC's digital transformation strategy.


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Most likely, this was a political move by the "right-wing" ABC board as it appears Guthrie was seeing through the fog of the liberal political hubris... Who knows... Yep... Read from top.


please, don't tell anyone...

This is my opinion about Michelle Guthrie and the ABC.

The sad nearly nasty episode of MediaWatch last night showed either how this program is scared of the board or how it has stupidly judged the situation. 
• ROS CHILDS: Michelle Guthrie says she's devastated to be sacked from her role as managing director of the ABC, two-and-a-half years into her five-year term. She also says she's considering legal options.

The corporation's chairman made the announcement today, saying the board directors resolved it was not in the best interests of the ABC for Ms Guthrie to continue to lead the organisation.

- ABC News Channel, 24 September, 2018

Hello, I’m Paul Barry, welcome to Media Watch.

And that dramatic news came this morning after the ABC board sacked managing director Michelle Guthrie mid-way through her five-year term.

Huge shock though it was, there have been tensions all year between her and fellow executives and a rift between her and the chairman, Justin Milne, who was soon on ABC News trying to explain why the board had dumped her:

JOE O'BRIEN: I'm going to ask you this once again, because it's the question that everyone's going to be asking. If she did a pretty good job on the digital stuff, where could she have succeeded more effectively?

JUSTIN MILNE: The board felt in the end that her leadership style was not the style that we needed going forward. We needed a different leadership style, and that is the decision of the board.

JOE O'BRIEN: So how would you characterise her leadership style?

JUSTIN MILNE: You're going to have to forgive me, but I'm not going to characterise her leadership style for you.

- ABC News Channel, 24 September, 2018

Quite what was wrong with it, Milne would not say.

But it’s been seen by some as curt, abrasive and inconsistent.

Guthrie was also reluctant to defend and articulate what the ABC stands for.

And her vision of the future left some of her fellow executives concerned, amid fears they might walk.

Finally, her willingness or skills in lobbying for public funding have also been questioned:

JOE O'BRIEN: How would you describe the relationship that Michelle Guthrie was able to develop with government?

JUSTIN MILNE:  That's possibly an area that could've been better. I think that's fair to say.

- ABC News Channel, 24 September, 2018

In small groups Guthrie could be charming and persuasive, but if you shared a lift with her she rarely engaged.

Word is she was often absent.

And two weeks ago she made some astonishing revelations, telling the Financial Review she was not comfortable with the public profile that came with the job, she knew no one in Canberra when she returned to Australia and she’d only been looking for a job as a non-executive director – but no one would give her that gig

Which begs the question, why did the ABC employ her?

And which also makes you ask why did she take the job, given it requires a passion for public broadcasting and a determination to fight its many critics, while ensuring government funding continues to flow?

Today at the ABC, it appeared there were few regrets.

Four Corners boss Sally Neighbour tweeted bravely:

Excellent decision

- Twitter, @neighbour_s, 24 September, 2018

And Jon Faine, who famously tackled the MD in public for not defending the ABC, was cockahoop:

JON FAINE:She was refusing to conduct any interviews on-air. She would not take on her role as a champion for this organisation publicly. She would not advocate for us in the public domain, in the public space, which was an astonishing fail on her part …

Those who worked closely with her say she wasn’t confident engaging publicly, which is an extraordinary thing for someone paid a million dollars a year to run the most important cultural institution in the nation.

- Mornings with Jon Faine, ABC Melbourne, 24 September 2018

For her part, Michelle Guthrie says she is devastated by her sacking and, arguing in a statement, that it was not justified:

At no point have any issues been raised with me about the transformation being undertaken, the Investing in Audiences strategy and my effectiveness in delivering against that strategy.

- Statement, Michelle Guthrie, 24 September, 2014

Obviously, we don’t yet know who will take Guthrie’s place, but for the moment the man who runs ABC TV will be in charge.

David Anderson takes over at a difficult time, with deep funding cuts, two inquiries, talk of a financial black hole and, as always, an army of critics.

We wish him the very best of luck.


So what is wrong with this Paul Barry assessment? Sure, “his” programme would have been done in a hurry, but mixing the concept of "was" and “is” is unforgivable  Michelle Guthrie is a very intelligent person who takes time to analyse a situation and know the best outcome in regard to all the present factors, including budgets cuts, and the historical precedents to plan a better future for the ABC.
I would suggest that her main sin was she did not destroy what the board wanted her to. More of this later on.
It appears she was brought in to destroy and eventually “to fail” the ABC. As she recovered from a shaky start, after having been given the “poisoned chalice” SHE DID NOT FAIL.  
So she got sacked for “style”, not for management failure. This should tell you exactly what the ABC board seems to want: destruction, though they won't admit it. The board members of the ABC should hang their head in shame, Barry should as well but none of these geezers will, they have “righteousness” (and the government) on their side. Poppycock.
…"but if you shared a lift with her she rarely engaged". Yes? What do you mean talk about the weather? Or tell you about her plan to “save the ABC” from the government and the board? This would send some double-agents at the ABC who already hated her, back to their minders with the goss...
It appears that as a choice for leading the ABC, the board would have picked the best person to help destroy it. As a former Murdoch executive, she would have been "ideal”… The board of the ABC is loaded with right-wing thinkers who as the Liberals (right wing CONservative) governments recently have tried to destroy the ABC by cutting funding for the last five years and into the future — and even expressed through the “young Liberals (“rich” CONservative idiots in nappies) their wish for the complete destruction of the ABC.
Michelle was basically a good operator, trained in the Murdoch environment, thus hopefully would be able to also perform the Murdoch bid’s of the demise of the ABC. Murdoch hates the ABC.
At first, it appears that Guthrie was doing what had been asked of her. Style seems to be the prevalent way the ABC board thinks. Bugger the substance. So it took Michelle a while to find her strides — as of course between what the government wants, what the boards wants, what the ABC staff wants and what the public demands, there are a lot of tensions. 
Let’s say that it seems the previous management was doing “what the government and the board wanted” which was a slow dilution of the “power of the ABC while having a flamboyant style about it”.
Michelle was not so upfront. She actually is good at managing these conflicting dynamics. Some of the staff went up in arms, when she did not argue for “more funding”. Tough titties would have said the government: you’ll be getting less and less… But she would have appeared to ask. She is not the begging style.
It took a while for Michelle to grasp the ABC’s staff culture — unless she grasped it quickly but did not let it known until recently.  Her style of management is discreet and not bombastic (like saying one thing and doing another — we know who you were...).
She actually managed to save the ABC from further demolition — demolition which is on the government plan. This I guess became unacceptable for the government stooges. She would have been asked (does not take Einstein to figure this one out) to sack Emma Alberici for her critical opinionated article on the government’s management of the economy. I would suggest here that Guthrie would have studied the article in detail and found not much wrong in it. She would have had an argument about it with the board's leader, who knows. 
From then on, Guthrie, helped by a few enlightened outsiders, would have formulated a way to protect the ABC from further destruction, some of which she had prepared herself — under the momentum of the previous ABC regime. But she caught-on the idea that "she could have been set up to fail” and be part of the ABC demise. 
Recently, she had lifted the ABC game, despite the government budget cuts. But she had to coax the old lieutenants who may have resented not getting the gig... who knows. 
The proposition that the ABC is “leftist” is a lot of bullshit. One area that the board want to close down is RN, Radio National, which is a hot bed for alternative viewpoint on the AM band and is mostly listened to by “old people” in search of knowledge. The demise of RN was started by the previous management with massive budget cut which Guthrie managed to "stop". The ABC the government wants is to podcast everything for the idiotic "yoofs” with idiotic stuff, and become like a Netflix channel, but of course far less successful until it is run into the ground. That is the future of the ABC as planned by the government and Mr Murdoch — by making it fail.
Michelle Guthrie saw through this plan and held up the fort. Thus she was dismissed for “her style” which of course the Board is not prepare to qualify…
Pox on the board. My view.

saving the ABC...


As Turnbull's choice, however, Guthrie was never going to sit well with the Morrison "new generation" Government. For his part, the latest Prime Minister admitted that he had been informed by Communications Minister Fifield last night (ahead of ABC staff and the nation) of Guthrie's exit, before mumbling something about the ABC Board being autonomous and their decisions independent.

With the eloquence to which we are becoming accustomed, Prime Minister Morrison said:

'Well the ABC Board, um, that's their job, to decide, um, how well that show's being run... Let's not forget, they're an independent board ... '


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saving the ABC #2



Milne is driven by the need to secure more, not less, money from the government to secure its digital future. He was appointed because of his close connections with Malcolm Turnbull.

The political affiliations of the board are not just limited to the chairman. All of the current directors, with the exception of the staff-elected Jane Connors, were appointed by the minister rather than through the arms-length appointment process established by the former Labor government.

As a result, while they might be well-qualified for the corporate world, none have knowledge of the media industry, other than Peter Lewis, the former commercial TV accountant whom Turnbull commissioned to conduct an earlier ABC “efficiency review” before appointing him to the board.

These directors will now choose Guthrie’s successor.

Already they have a candidate close at hand, one who has been chosen as Guthrie’s interim replacement.

David Anderson is a long-time member of the ABC, well regarded by staff and senior executives alike, who was runner up to Guthrie for the job two and a half years ago.

He is certainly across the challenges facing the national broadcaster, having been elevated to a senior executive role in managing the transformation to digital by Guthrie’s predecessor Mark Scott.

He never agreed with the wholesale outsourcing of television content creation seen during Scott’s era, a strategy now acknowledged as a mistake as global competitors like Netflix steadily encroach on the local market. Both he and Guthrie acknowledged the importance of the ABC owning its own content, and on his initiative the planned sale of the ABC’s large TV studio at Gore Hill was reversed.

It’s an open question whether he has the mettle to resist the pressures in the top job from the government and its proxies, but certainly his colleagues on the executive are confident he has.

It may be, as one staff member observed, that the board will take a similar decision to that taken after the disastrous reign of Jonathan Shier as managing director, when it appointed the uncharismatic former accountant Russell Balding as a safe pair of hands to restore stability.

But more is needed than stability. The staff are crying out for a leader to inspire confidence and to publicly promote the cause of the national public broadcaster. The past master at this was Guthrie’s predecessor Mark Scott, who displayed a deft touch not only tweeting his tweets, but also glad-handling politicians from either side. 

Scott’s critics viewed him as more style than substance, and it must be said that many of his poor appointments and decisions were unfairly blamed on Guthrie. Nonetheless, his political finesse delivered the Corporation additional funding from both sides of politics.


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saving the ABC #3



Matt Peacock, the last staff elected member of the ABC Board, told ABC radio that Michelle Guthrie had stood up against overt interference by the Government and defended staff, in a “very hostile political environment”.

He said:

She was staunch in defending staff and resisting pressure to have people sacked just because people in the Government did not like them … She had a passion for ABC staff … she got the blame for changes that were already being made [when she joined]. 

Be careful what you wish for; the next one could be worse.

He also saw the ABC chairman, Justin Milne, who enacted the dismissal of his CEO half-way through her five-year contract, being confronted with the familiar problem that comes with running the national broadcaster:

“There are reservations whether he can maintain the ABC’s independence and integrity, at the same time as getting money the ABC is going to need to go digital.”

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milne's agenda: destroy the abc as you know it...



Guardian Australia has talked to some who say that what has unfolded is a story that has more of the elements of a classic boardroom power play than a tale of political interference from the government.

Milne, a former telco executive, has made no secret of his desire to raise $500m for digital infrastructure for when the ABC is fully digital and no longer has to broadcast television and radio. Guthrie is said to have been less than enthusiastic about the plan, dubbed Project Jetstream.

“We need to embrace Jetstream wholeheartedly and move forward,” Milne told ABC News’ Joe O’Brien when he tried to explain why Guthrie had been removed. “It’s a big infrastructure project and it’s a difficult thing to decide to do because we’re building infrastructure that won’t be used for three years.”

Not everyone is supportive of Milne’s excitement about Project Jetstream – one insider even called it “nuts” – and Guthrie did have some fans on the board. But Milne had more, and in the end, he outwitted her. 

However, although the disagreements over digital infrastructure were of a recent nature, the signs were there early on that Guthrie was not going to excel at dealing with another tricky area – Canberra.

She complained about the committee running late when she appeared before her first Senate estimates committee in 2016; she said it wasn’t her job to lobby for more money and she missed the crucial budget estimates hearing to fly to Singapore for a family engagement.


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Jetstream would be the end of the ABC as you know it. Guthrie was opposed to this destruction of the ABC, FOR GOOD REASONS... Capiche?...

gus was on the money...

Apparently, the SMH has a memo that, as Gus suggested in please, don't tell anyone..., regards the sacking of Emma Alberici...


please read above comments from top.


Should the memo be authentic, the ABC chairman has no choice but to resign. Under no circumstances can the ABC chairman, or the ABC chief executive for that matter, demand the sacking of an employee of the ABC. 

project destroy the ABC as you know it...

The ABC board isn't like any other board of companies. The shareholders, us, you and me, have only one token representative, the staff of the ABC have another so-called "director" on the board. The rest of the "directors" are government appointees. Had it been a normal company, in this Gurthrie sacking affair, the board would have been exposed in shenanighans the shareholders had no clue about and would have been dismissed forthwith by the shareholders. 

The deliberation of the ABC board are done in secret and resolutions are not told to the shareholders. When was the last time you have heard of "Project Jetstream"? Never, I hear you say. Yet this had been the underlying momentum into shifting the ABC from a prominent broadcaster into an online black hole, under government (CONservative) orders.

It's not going to be pretty. Should you wish to protect the ABC as you know it, you need to bring the Morrison government down, even if you are a true blue Liberal or a National. You have no choice.

Oh and by the way, the new management might talk about exciting times, difficult past and confidence in the future. It most likely will be a lot of soothing rubbish. 

yes emma...

Senior ABC reporter Emma Alberici says reports chairman Justin Milne told former managing director Michelle Guthrie to sack her after criticism from the Government are "disappointing if true".

Fairfax newspapers are reporting that Mr Milne wrote in an email to Ms Guthrie that Alberici had damaged the public broadcaster's standing with Coalition MPs.

A source close to the ABC board is not denying the email was sent.

Alberici told ABC Radio Melbourne's Jon Faine that she had not heard that the chairman wanted her sacked until she read it in today's reports.

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Yes Emma, if you didn't know it, Michelle Guthrie was protecting the ABC staff as much as she could, despite being pilloried by the said staff for whatever, including Paul Barry on his Media Watch show. 


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milne should be sacked or he should sack himself...

There are calls for the chairman of the ABC to resign following revelations he told Michelle Guthrie to fire economics editor Emma Alberici after the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull complained about her reporting of tax policy.

Labor has also called on the communications minister to explain what he knew about the matter and when, saying the independence and integrity of the public broadcaster was at stake.

The instruction to fire Alberici came in an email from Justin Milne to then managing director Guthrie in May, Fairfax Media first reported on Wednesday.

Guardian Australia has confirmed the message.

“They [the government] hate her,” Milne wrote. “We are tarred with her brush. I think it’s simple. Get rid of her. We need to save the ABC – not Emma. There is no guarantee they [the Coalition] will lose the next election.”


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Reinstate Guthrie and sack the board!

staff motion for mr milne to stand aside...

Justin Milne is facing calls to resign as ABC chairman after a report that he sought to have chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici sacked following a backlash from the Coalition Government.

At a meeting in Sydney this afternoon hundreds of ABC staff unanimously passed a motion calling for Mr Milne to stand aside and for an independent inquiry to take place.

This morning, Fairfax Media reported that it had been given an email from May 8 in which Mr Milne told Michelle Guthrie, who was sacked as managing director on Monday, that the Coalition Government hates Alberici.

"I think it's simple. Get rid of her. We need to save the ABC — not Emma. There is no guarantee they [the Coalition] will lose the next election," he reportedly wrote.

Mr Milne did not comment on the accuracy of the Fairfax report in a statement released this morning, saying instead:

"The job of the ABC Board is to independently govern the Corporation, protect its best interests, ensure that it is well funded, well managed and that our content is of the highest standards. That is precisely what the Board has done and will continue to do. I do not propose to provide a running commentary on day to day issues which arise in pursuit of our duties."

The motion for Mr Milne to stand aside and for an independent inquiry to take place was carried by a show of hands during the staff meeting at the ABC's Ultimo building. Dozens of staff at the ABC's Southbank studios in Melbourne passed the same motion.

A smaller gathering of staff at the ABC's Brisbane studios called on Mr Milne to publicly acknowledge if the political interference in the reported email was true and, if so, "immediately resign from his position".

It is understood the ABC Board is trying to schedule a meeting for later today.


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the hack saw the hacksaw taken to the abc...

Another one down at Aunty ABC as Michael Mason gets ready to depart at the end of the year. Michael is head of something called “Regional and Local” and according to David Anderson, the grey bureaucrat currently serving as acting managing director, “it’s hard to capture the enormous influence Michael has had on the development and success of ABC’s radio and audio services over the past 34 years”.

That is longhand for overseeing the income stripping from Radio National, among other triumphs. Judith Whelan, former Sydney Morning Herald editor, is taking over as acting head of Regional and Local. At the moment she is head of Specialist Content and before that head of Spoken Content. These weird job titles are the result of Michelle Guthrie’s “content restructure” designed to do away with the divisions between radio and TV and create pools of teams managing content areas across “platforms”.

Poor put-upon ABC hacks are wondering what’s worse – Michelle Guthrie’s sacking litigation, management turmoil or the excruciating lingo.


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But in fact Guthrie was smarter than this. Her use of "euphemism" was a way to disguise cuts to the "Mark Scott overloaded managerial ABC positions" instead of cutting staff...


Please read :

When she was managing director, ABC staff used to wince over Michelle Guthrie’s nervous media performances, doubting she had the mettle for the top job.

Since she’s been sacked, though, she has more than demonstrated her capacity as a street fighter. She’s already toppled chairman Justin Milne and now she’s going after the rest of the board.


Already the ABC has battened down the hatches, repulsing a departmental inquiry led by Mike Mrdak, who conducted a cursory investigation into these events. He failed to gain access to even Guthrie’s widely publicised dossier on Milne’s interference, let alone other examples yet to see the light of day.

It will not be so easy to fob off the Senate inquiry just announced, which will run until election eve in March next year.

Let’s hope the inquiry is forensic, peeling back whatever political pressures and interference have been at play. We are talking here about a chairman who was prepared to sacrifice the ABC’s senior political and economic correspondents to please an angry prime minister.


For the hard-working staff (and they are - don’t believe the malevolent Murdoch propaganda) it just seems to get worse.

Guthrie was never going to be popular with many, implementing as she was the board’s agenda to smash divisional silos, cull the back office and trim budgets. Many of her mistakes were the legacy of her smooth-talking predecessor, Mark Scott, who began the mass sacking “Hunger Games” in 2014, the unpopular cuts to Radio National and the rampant outsourcing of programs. And during Scott’s time, management layers at the ABC grew by about 10 per cent, rather than shrank.

Scott’s skill was in courting governments from both sides. He scored extra money from John Howard and also Kevin Rudd. Guthrie appeared to lack this skill, although when she was running the place she was dealing with a far more hostile government.

The Abbott and Turnbull attacks on the ABC reflect a worldwide assault on public interest media. The Trump era of fake news is upon us, sponsored by Rupert Murdoch and nurtured by the extreme right. Public media is a fundamental ingredient for vibrant democracy. We should fight for it.

Bold by Gus...


Senate inquiry :

senate inquiry


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it's the libs' fault...

It is most likely that the MMMMM (Murdoch mediocre mass media de mierda) starts going on in its papers about wasting moneys at the ABC, by giving Guthrie an extra payola to avoid going to court... First the whole saga is of the Liberal (CONservative) government's making. The board members were mostly chosen by Fifield or previous Liberal (CONservative) ministers and apparently the chair of the ABC, Justin Milne, a Turnbull friend was appointed by... Turnbull. It is Gus humble opinion that Ms Guthrie was employed by the board to do the board's bidding and by default do the dirty work of dismantling the ABC, brick by brick, like a Playschool set, on behalf of the Liberal (CONservative) government (read from top). At one point, Ms Guthrie realised she was badly advised and started not do as asked, like not sacking journalists the "government" did not like... the rest is history and the whole shoomoozle is of course the fault of this incompetent Liberal (CONservative) government, now run by full-of-positive-hubris Scummo-the-Noah's-ark-consultant and flogger-of-refugees, taking us in a RECESSION.

Whatever you think, blame the government, blame the board (— THE ABC BOARD ISN'T THE ABC — for having mucked up), BUT DO NOT BLAME THE ABC. The ABC, your ABC, still is your best chance to get VALID information, PROPER CURRENT AFFAIRS and EXCITING entertainment beyond basic rubbish on offer from the other channels, including the subscribers' cable TVs.


Save the ABC. Blame the government.


killing media diversity...

Two years after Australia’s competition watchdog green lighted the biggest consolidation of media ownership here in more than 40 years, the withdrawal of online start-up BuzzFeed has exposed its misjudgment.

In 2018 BuzzFeed, which started here in 2014, was put up as a burgeoning media diversity justification for the historic approval the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission gave to the merger of Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims ruled: “While the merger between these two big-name media players (Nine and Fairfax) raised a number of extremely complex issues, and will likely reduce competition, we concluded that the proposed merger was not likely to substantially lessen competition in any market in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act.”

“With the growth in online news … many other players, albeit smaller, now provide some degree of competitive constraint. These include, for example, The Guardian, The New Daily, BuzzFeed, Crikey and The Daily Mail.”

The ACCC’s “competitive constraint” justification was laughable then and tragic now as the Australian media industry bids farewell to BuzzFeed in the local news market.

At the time former prime minister Paul Keating attacked Mr Sims and the ACCC for having “relegated the Fairfax mastheads to the ethical dustbin of Channel Nine”.

While by 2020 all local media outlets have lifted their audiences through their coverage of the bushfires and COVID-19 national emergencies, nothing, it appeared, could save BuzzFeed as a local content creator.

A watchdog charged by its legislation with building competitive job-creating industries, and not allowing more powerful vested interests any unfair advantage, should reflect on what has happened.

Local market conditions, including COVID-19 lockdown impacts on ad spend, may well have changed since the ACCC waved through the Nine/Fairfax merger. 

But this merger is unfolding as the biggest anti-competitive consolidation since the scandalous 1987 Rupert Murdoch News Ltd. takeover of the Herald and Weekly Times. 

A less diverse media is not considered healthy in any functioning, robust democracy.

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Save the ABC... make sure the Scomo government restore full funding for the ABC. Australia without the ABC would be like a dead zone inside your brains. Read from top.