06 March 2010

Can I just try that again, it's a little bit jumbled?

On Friday South Australian ABC TV Stateline viewers were short changed by a sudden (and unexplained) truncation of a debate between Treasurer Foley and Shadow Treasurer Griffiths.What went to air (including presenter Ian Henschke's apparent lack of awareness of what had happened) can be viewed here. .

Despite the ABC's ineptitude, what it did screen was interesting for a number of reasons, not least that Mr Foley sounded more like a Liberal than a Labor politician. Mr Rann hardly got a mention, though the Premier did appear in some introductory material (at 1:35). What was more surprising was that Foley praised Mr Howard and Mr Costello (eg at 6:30), and said that he was happy to engage some of their former staffers for the $2.5m budget review body which he plans to set up after the election. To cap it all, when the mild mannered Mr Griffiths took issue with one of his points, the Treasurer accused him (at 8:17) of acting like an old style Labor treasurer!

While Mr Foley had none of the makeup malfunction which may have lessened the Premier's impact during the Leaders' debate earlier in the week, he wasn't always on top of his material. At one point, when trying to explain the effects of the GFC on the state's finances he recognised that he'd lost it and asked (at 4:59) "Can I just try that again, it's a little bit jumbled?". A little later (at 7:23) he had a Mrs Malaprop moment: "We haven't prescripted [sic]anything".

And Mr Griffiths? He may not have scored many points but in my opinion he didn't do himself or his party too much harm. Check out the video and decide for yourself.

Update 8 March

A longer version of the debate, presumably the one which was intended to go to air on Friday, is now available here . It has cut out some of the preliminary material and appears to include the full original debate. It also makes my timings above inaccurate. It shows Mr Foley in full attack mode and Mr Griffiths, who stumbled over the names of taxes, more defensive.

I can't find any reference on the ABC website to the fact that this was not the version shown on Friday. This is inexcusable (and Orwellian). I'm not saying that the first version should stand but that the ABC, whose fault it was, should point out that what viewers saw on Friday night is not what internet users can see now. If it means two versions so be it.

Update 9 March

This is now on the SA Stateline website:

This debate failed to air on the program due to technical difficulties. The version here was screened in Stateline's Saturday repeat timeslot.

It is wrong to claim that the debate "failed to air on the program". Also the "version here" implies that there are other versions. I know of at least one other version, but how many are there?

There is still (6.00pm CST) no transcript. Wonder why.

Further update 10 March

In today's Crikey (scroll down until you reach the item) Alan Sunderland, Head of National Programs ABC News replied. He conceded that Friday's Stateline was "interrupted by technical difficulties" but claimed that the ABC "fixed the problem and the full show aired the following day in the normal repeat timeslot".

He then added
"Although it is indeed standard practice to add an Editor’s Note explaining any changes from the program that went to air, we would not routinely note that a technical glitch had occurred. However, to remove any confusion or uncertainty during an election campaign, an explanatory note is being added to the program website."

The explanatory note is now on the program website:

Foley v Griffiths on SA economics

Source: Stateline South Australia

Published: Friday, March 5, 2010 8:58 AEDT

Expires: Thursday, June 3, 2010 8:58 AEDT

Treasurer Kevin Foley and shadow treasurer Steven Griffiths debate economic policy for the March 20 poll in SA. This debate failed to air on the program due to technical difficulties. The version here was screened in Stateline's Saturday repeat timeslot.

This incorrectly states that the program “failed to air” – only some of it did -and shows that the boundary between the technical and editorial matters can easily become blurred, especially during an election campaign.

Other ABC News Sites state when stories are updated: why can’t Stateline’s?

Oh, and there's still no transcript online. Due to "technical difficulties", Mr Sutherland?

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