#JJJ

ABC MD issues an apology with a feather duster

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Good to see it took the ABC three days to come up with this response to the diabolically toxic Q&A program which hosted an expletive-laden show with a bunch of feminists. Pathetic. The producer will be hit over the knuckles with a feather duster.

Monday night’s episode of Q&A was presented in conjunction with The Wheeler Centre’s feminist ideas festival, ‘Broadside’. The intention of the program was to present challenging ideas from high-profile feminists whose expertise ranges across ageism, disability, Indigenous and domestic violence issues.

The ABC acknowledges that the program was provocative in regard to the language used and some of the views presented.

Q&A has always sought to tackle difficult issues and present challenging and thought-provoking content. However, I can understand why some viewers found elements of this episode confronting or offensive.

We have received audience complaints about the program, are assessing the concerns raised and will investigate whether the program met the ABC’s editorial standards.

Huh? Investigate whether it met editorial standards? Just read the transcript,

Some choice moments that have so much balance that even Mary Whitehouse would have accepted the content, are presented here,

MONA ELTAHAWY

“Well, you’re asking the person here who travels the world to say fuck the patriarchy, so I think that what we have to do is start seriously talking about dismantling patriarchy. And when I talk about patriarchy, I’m talking about a white-supremacist, capitalist, imperialist patriarchy…

I go online exactly to tell people to fuck off when they attack me, and I’m very well-known for it...

FRAN KELLY

And at this point, I will utter a language warning on the program, and remind our guests.

MONA ELTAHAWY

No, honestly, it’s… You know, this idea of respectability, this idea of civility, this idea of unity, all of these words, decorum, who invented those words? Those words were invented by white men for the benefit of other white men in systems and institutions that were always designed to be for white men. And they weren’t designed for women like you and me and so many others. Like you said, people of colour and gender-diverse people. They never imagined us in those spaces, and then we show up and we just ruin it for them….

And so those who abide by the system – and Barack Obama was part of the system and remains part of the system… I also disagree with his wife when she says, “When they go low, we go high.” No I fucking don’t. If you go low I’m going to come for you. So, no, I do not have the luxury or the privilege to sit there and be civil with people who do not acknowledge my full humanity. I refuse. Number one…

…So, for those who say, “Be civil,” for those who say, “Be polite,” I have an entire chapter on the political importance of profanity, and I remind them of a Ugandan feminist called Dr Stella Nyanzi who is currently in prison in Uganda because she wrote a poem on Facebook wishing that the mother of the dictator of her country had poisoned him, that her birth canal had poisoned him during birth. And when she was taken to court and doing her sentencing, she was video-taped in, because she’s known for her profanity, she stood there in the video, she took off her top, she jiggled her breasts and she said, “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you!” In court!“…

…Nothing. For me, as a feminist the most important thing is to destroy patriarchy. And all of this talk about how, if you talk about violence, you’re just becoming like the men. So, your question is a really important one but I’m going to answer it with another question. How long must we wait for men and boys to stop murdering us, to stop beating us and to stop raping us? How many rapists must we kill? Not the state, because I disagree with the death penalty and I want to get rid of incarceration and I’m with you on the police. So I want women themselves… As a woman I’m asking, how many rapists must we kill until men stop raping us?

We all know what will happen. Assurances by the ABC it will never happen again until the next time which won’t be that far away. We were promised that when Q&A got in trouble over giving a platform to a man who pleaded guilty to threatening to kill ASIO and DFAT officers, Zaky Mallah who went on a rant against then conservative MP Steve Ciobo. Who could forget the “@AbbottLovesAnal” hashtag the show gladly allowed during the former PM’s term? A mistake, honest. Just like Triple J’s guide to blowjobs.

The ABC should be defunded and forced into the TVNZ business model of having to provide content customers are willing to look at and advertisers willing to support. If the organization is so confident it has an audience for its content, it should put its confidence where its mouth is.

If you want to look at why the ABC doesn’t need more money, look at the staff costs to income ratio. Despite plateauing between 2008 & 2011 it quickly exploded. It now sits at 46% of the government handout generated. That is $524mn on staff costs per year and rising. 4,939 staff grace the ABC. Funding per employee is $232,000. A decade ago it was $232,700. Is that what the management target for hiring? Give the ABC $2bn and presumably, it will have employment costs of $1bn.

Channel 9 must fight hard for every advertising penny but still manages a 29.1% staff cost to revenue ratio. $380m in staff costs on $1.3bn revenue. 3,310 employees convert to $392,750 in revenue per staff member.

Sevenwest Media raked in $1.62bn in revenue on staff costs of $395mn or 24%. The same cutthroat world of earning a living instead of feeling entitled to one. Seven West has 4,528 staff meaning it generates $357,800 in revenue per employee.

Maybe ABC should be forced to channel the New Zealand state broadcaster, TVNZ. After all ABC fawns over NZ PM Jacinda Ardern, all the time and she hasn’t demanded the state take TVNZ back to a taxpayer-funded model. It gets $310m of its $318m purse from advertising. It’s staff costs excluding capitalizing into programs is $72m which converts to 23% staff cost/revenues. They do with 642 FT employees. Revenue/employee is $495,000. It paid a dividend back to the government of $3.7m. i.e. it is a revenue-generating asset.

In 2007, TVNZ had $339m in revenue. It employed 1,023 people. Therefore revenue per employee was $331,380. So in a decade, TVNZ efficiency improved almost 50%. A 6% cut to revenue on 63% of the staff.

Instead of the long term ratings slide at the ABC across metro and regional Australia, TVNZ’s figures keep improving. Last year, TVNZ had a 43.2% all day audience up 1.3%.

Comparing 2017/18 and 2015/16 at the ABC we see that TV audience reach for metro fell from 55.2% to 49.7% and regional slumped from 60.3% to 54.0%. If we go back to 2007/8 the figures were 60.1% and 62.4% respectively. For the 2017/18 period, the ABC targets 50% reach. Hardly a stretch.

ABC clearly has no place receiving funding with content like this. As it stands, the ABC isn’t out of control. It is in full command of its content. The Minister for Communications has lost control and continues to let the broadcaster do as it pleases – even allow shows with Aboriginal actresses pretending to defecate on white people or kids programs that take a stab at white privilege. The ABC is so left-leaning it would make Stalin’s Pravda blush for being too conservative.

The ultimate irony is that things are so bad at the ABC that the latest Annual Report revealed a survey that showed staff engagement at 46%, 6 points lower than the previous survey which placed the organization in the bottom quartile of ALL Australian & NZ businesses. It is so bad that many staff complained that poor performers are not dealt with but tolerated.

ABC lowers the bar (again)

Good to see our tax dollars get allocated so wisely at the public broadcaster. ABC’s JJJ music wing thought an article on oral sex titled, “A beginner’s guide to blowies” was just what the audience required. It will probably get put down as an oversight with assurances it won’t happen again until it does.

ABC gives yet more reasons to be defunded

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The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has a charter to be politically unbiased. The public knows it is unashamedly partisan. Yet its overseers (aka the Government) still give funding north of $1bn to the state owned media group without calling it up for what it gets away with. What it passes for ‘free speech’ usually ends up in the climate change, asylum seekers or any other social justice cause it feels strongly about. Yet the charter is not supposed to act as a platform for disgruntled public servants to broadcast their own views on the taxpayer’s purse. The latest saga is the ABC’s JJJ station which broadcasts alternative music. It has decided it won’t be playing the Hottest 100 Countdown on Australia Day because of its political views that it is in reality ‘invasion day.’ There is no problem for each and everyone of those JJJ employees who thinks of Australia Day that way to believe that. It is another to provide a tax payer funded platform to express it.

To put it in perspective, given several Victorian local councils decided several months ago not to host naturalisation ceremonies on Australia Day, one would hope that JJJ has just woken up from the marijuana smoke haze in the studio to realize this fact. Otherwise, why has it taken them so long? Surely if the producers  were savvy enough at JJJ they could have announced their political stunt the week all of the social justice governments were announcing it.

However it is a serious issue. Why is there a need for four taxpayer funded stations in Melbourne? It is a similar story in the other states. The original purpose of the ABC was to fill in for a lack of a commercial alternative, especially for those in the countryside. Now we can all choose to stream Australian radio stations while we’re in Berlin or Caracas if we feel like it. When you look through the stats, JJJ key demographic is 25-39yo but across all time segments except ‘Afternoon’ it struggles for better than 5%. ABC Melbourne caters to pensioners. Is there a need to provide the infrastructure to supply four stations. Surely the rational argument is that a similar number of bodies must be employed to fill the same roles – the producer, technician, the script writer, the news gatherer….even the guard at the front door. Run many of these stations on commercial terms and most wouldn’t pay the cost of operating.

If one believes we must have a public broadcaster then the number of stations should be cut to one, not four. If the private sector can’t see a ‘commercial’ justification for filling the gap it would leave then it is odds on that advertisers aren’t prepared to either. On the flip side if the ABC radio presenters are desired by particular audiences then the private stations will gladly snap them up.

This is not to undermine the efforts of some quarters of the ABC. Some documentaries such as ‘The Killing Season’ or Foreign Correspondent’s expose of the Fukushima reactor were extremely well done. However it is the fact that some in the ABC think they have a right to dispense the billion plus funding on their own political and social causes. Yet who can blame them when the former Communications Minister (now the Prime Minister) is desperate to avoid courting negative media coverage? When a conservative (by name plate) PM is afraid to go on private radio stations with conservative audiences you know this problem of bias at the ABC won’t be going away for a long time, especially after the drubbing the conservatives will get at the coming election.

With a $500bn and rising debt in Australia, we can ill afford frivolous public spending, especially on broadcasting where the ABC ignores its charter so brazenly. We can chose to listen to left leaning or conservative radio stations in the commercial space. We can consume on line any form of media we choose from around the globe. With media now so ubiquitous, what is the ABC offering that is remotely ‘differentiated’ to warrant its existence? None that can be seen.