Here’s what I think about the ABC issue. From an economic perspective, yes cutting funding would save money from the budget and reduce government debt. And going a step further, it’s almost certainly true that the ABC would be more efficiently run were it privatised outright and be more competitive. So I don’t argue with the economic reasoning. And certainly, in most other industries I would argue for keeping the government out, for exactly these reasons.
But when talking about the ABC, there’s much more to it than the economic argument. Having diverse media, representing a cross section of different interests, is essential to democracy itself. If all our broadcasters were monopolised by the same corporate interests, diversity in journalism would suffer immensely, it would be biased, and the people would be less informed and not be exposed to a diversity of views and opinions. And undermining or privatising the ABC would cause this.
When I watch TV (I hardly ever do since I don’t own one), I exclusively watch the ABC and SBS, since, in my mind, they are the only broadcasters with any depth or quality in their journalism. I think Abbott agrees with me on this, and this is precisely why he doesn’t like the ABC – he doesn’t want to be criticised or held to account. The commercial broadcasters, in my mind, are severely deficient in the quality of their journalism, are completely lacking in balance, and fail to be critical of government. Abbott agrees and that is what he wants.
ABC journalism has been essential in recent years in being critical of government (regardless of which party is in power), and doing its job of conducting interviews and covering stories which hold politicians to account. Democracy would suffer if this wasn’t the case.
So if you’re going to comment on this post, don’t waste your time with the economic arguments. I already agree with the economic arguments. Instead, argue why undermining or demolishing the ABC is good for the quality of journalism in our country and why it is good for democracy.