05 November 2006

Culture of complaint against public broadcasters continues

UPDATE 6 November: Matt Price's article referred to below is now online here.

ORIGINAL POST (unchanged except for one typo corrected)
"Aunty and co face Neo-Connie's wrath".This is the title of Matt Price's column in today's Weekend Australian. To read it (and like most of Matt's stuff it's worth reading) you'll need to go to page 20 as, unlike most if not all his other pieces, this isn't online. I won't speculate why.

"Aunty" is of course the ABC, about whose current travails Matt has written previously, such as here.. "Neo-Connie" is NSW Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells , aka, as he puts it "Connie to her pals, neo-Connie to detractors", who "chooses to patrol the public broadcasters for signs of far-Left bias. Which, in neo-Connie's eyes, are everywhere".

He also has a critical thing or two to say about Victorian Senator Michael Ronaldson aka "neo_Ronnie", who "is less dedicated culture warrior than knockabout bully to whom broadcaster bashing is more sport than religion" .

The two Senators used the recent Senate estimates hearing to quiz, harangue, berate - call it what you will - the managing directors of the ABC and SBS about alleged left wing bias. Matt gives some examples of their lines of questioning and comments about the increasingly abrasive tone they used. The committee chairman (also a Liberal) "was plainly embarrassed and to his great credit intervened to chide his ultra-aggressive colleagues".

He continues

As taxpayer-funded outfits, ABC and SBS should be answerable to senators scrutinising government. If people such as neo-Connie feel compelled to complain about nudity on SBS, it's a small price to pay for public funding.

But the bullying is out of control. John Howard has stacked the board that chose [Mark] Scott as the man to lead the ABC into the complex, ever-changing digital era. On Monday's performance [at the Senate estimates hearing], he'll do a good job. The appointment of an editorial director to guard against partiality is contentious and bureaucratic and won't stem criticism of the ABC. But you'd think government senators would at least give Scott a settling-in period. Instead, neo-Ronnie and Connie roundly mocked and scorned the ABC chief, who stoutly defended the corporation against their generally absurd, overblown attacks.

It's easy for a senator with a tramscript and a chauffeur to sit on their air conditioned ar*e and blithely lambast a war corespondent for using the term militant instead of terrorist during a live interview, often conducted in a battle zone. Scott ignored the snide comments and insults, lauding the professional judgment of his reporters and explaining how 65 radio stations running live around the clock will produce an array of content, not all of it necessarily adhering to a bureaucratic formula.

Wait for the futile nitpicking to increase as Labor and the minor parties mirror the Liberals' tactic of bombarding the ABC, in particular, with complaints...No good can come of this, and the obsessive, unreasonable antics of neo-Con and neo-Ron will eventually backfire on unreasonable critics of ABC and SBS.

Unless I'm wrong, audiences and voters much prefer the flawed public broadcasters to pissant, pedantic politicians. And by the time Labor and those far left-wing leftists eventually win office, nuisances such as neo-Connie and neo-Ronnie will have written the rule book for egregious political interference.

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