#ourABC

Fair facts about Fairfax

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Freedom of the press. A beautiful thing. By all means, the 177-yo Sydney Morning Hearld (SMH) executed full autonomy over what it published. In the end, the public didn’t buy it. For the staff to seek the union to block the Nine Network’s takeover of Fairfax Media smacks of the identical numb-skulled action that has brought them to this predicament. If the paper decided to listen to what the audience wanted to read (the mood) as opposed to telling them they “don’t get it” it might have retained its independence. Take a look at the pictograph above – 20 anti Trump articles in one day. Overkill?

Last year the SMH had to take two massive rounds of lay-offs inside of 12 months because the product wasn’t reaching. The SMH staff took a vote to strike because their evil overlords put profit ahead of people. Welcome to the free market. When one journalist at the SMH became a scab (because he admitted the paper’s journalism was the  problem) he was vilified by his fellow workers. Instead of opening their minds that they maybe the root cause, they protested. Finger on the pulse?

It certainly makes a strong case for how the diminishing readership base (i.e. the free market) viewed the content. Not very highly. It is why The Guardian now asks its readers for charity so it can stay alive? Could it be that media jobs don’t exist to serve the journalists needs but that of their audience? The Fairfax scribes might reflect on the fact that the taxpayer funded ABC – which produces identical product – was not the friendly ally it believed it was but the mortal enemy who ended it. As an audience, if we’re not offered a differentiated product where the same content  is free to consume, who would pay for the one that costs?

Yet the sale of Fairfax was obvious. Digging a bit deeper into the stats of the ABC reveals its biased left leaning journalism has dwindling popularity. Comparing 2016/17 and 2015/16 it is clear that TV audience reach for metro fell from 55.2% to 52.5% and regional slumped from 60.3% to 57.3%. If we go back to 2007/8 the figures were 60.1% and 62.4% respectively. For the 2017/18 period, the ABC targets a 50% reach. Good to see taxpayer dollars openly championed with enhanced levels of mediocrity. Yet the ABC screams for more funding.

Throwing more money won’t fix the problems. The ABC’s wage bill is 50% of revenue while its multicultural sister station SBS runs on 31% of revenue for salaries. Why hasn’t the ABC got superior economies of scale? On a global basis, the UK’s BBC spends 22.7% of its revenues on salaries. How can Nine Network survive on advertising revenues? Could it be audience numbers allow advertisers to make rational decisions to tap them?

Criticise Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian for right wing media bias but at the very least he serves a market who is willing to pay for the content. Simple. It is no difference overseas. Fox has more viewers than MSNBC and CNN combined. Don’t belt Fox viewers for following “Faux News” but question what is it about their offering that they’re missing? At what point do the likes of Fairfax or Time Warner realize the problem lies within.

In Fairfax’s case we have the answer – market forces.

ABC goes bananas but slips up on cold truths that split the narrative

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On March 18,  CM wrote about the gross inefficiencies at the ABC, which have rapidly deteriorated over time. We said,

Since 2008, the average salary of ABC’s staff has risen 25% from $86,908 to $108,408. Total staff numbers have risen from 4499 to 4769. Therefore salaries as a percentage of the ABC revenues have risen from 37.1% of the budget to 50%. The ABC’s ability to generate sales from content has fallen from A$140mn to A$70mn last year. The multicultural SBS has seen its budget grow from A$259mn in 2008 to A$412mn in 2017. SBS staff numbers have grown from 844 to 1,466 over the same period with average salaries rising from A$82,689 to A$88,267 or 7.2%. Which begs the question why is the SBS able to operate at 31% of the budget in salaries while the ABC is at 50%? Surely the ABC’s economies of scale should work in its favour? Clearly not.

According to The Australian, in response to the budget cuts coming over the following three years,  the ABC responded today with,

The ABC says there is “no more fat to cut” following the federal government’s announcement to slash $84 million in funding from the public broadcaster…News director Gaven Morris has hit back at the three-year funding freeze announced in Tuesday’s federal budget, which maintains more than $1 billion a year for the broadcaster.

“Make no mistake, there is no more fat to cut at the ABC. Any more cuts to the ABC cut into the muscle of the organisation…We’re as efficient as we’ve ever been…We’re the most minutely scrutinised media organisation in Australia…$84 million over three years, there is simply no way we can achieve that without looking at content creation and certainly looking at jobs within the organisation.”

Well perhaps if the ABC stop airing radical feminists who demand that parents seek approval from their babies when changing nappies or called conservative politicians who served in the military as “c*nts” perhaps it might justify for more budget.

It is a pretty simple. Online media pretty much allows such a wide array of choice that we do not need a taxpayer funded media (which readily breaches its code of conduct with regards to political bias) to provide so much content.

We have multiple ABC TV & radio stations plus multiple websites. One could argue for one each. We certainly do not need to give the ABC more money to expand its platforms to make up for a shortfall in quality content to arrest declining market shares.

The unbiased ABC happily calls and treats us as c*nts

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) says it is strictly impartial when it comes to politics. No bias whatsoever. The point was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt when it came to one of its comedy programmes calling conservative politicians c@nts. It is not a question of humour (if one can call it that) being like cartoons addressing political satire, it is a question of the organization flagrantly violating its own charter. Australian taxpayers deserve better. The financials of the ABC reveal how out of touch it is.

The ABC was originally established to make sure even rural communities could access news. Scroll forward c.90 years and we are able to stream radio programs from Berlin or TV shows from Canada right to our mobile handset, desktop or TV screen. Media choice is everywhere. Yet the Aussie taxpayer funds multiple ABC radio and TV stations to cater to markets well covered by the commercial sector. The ABC and the SBS get over A$1.5bn a year in funding.

Let’s dig a bit deeper in the stats of the ABC. Comparing 2016/17 and 2015/16 we see that TV audience reach for metro fell from 55.2% to 52.5% and regional slumped from 60.3% to 57.3%. If we go back to 2007/8 the figures were 60.1% and 62.4% respectively. For the 2017/18 period, the ABC targets a 50% reach. Hardly a stretch.

Since 2008, the average salary of ABC’s staff has risen 25% from $86,908 to $108,408. Total staff numbers have risen from 4499 to 4769. Therefore salaries as a percentage of the ABC revenues have risen from 37.1% of the budget to 50%. The ABC’s ability to generate sales from content has fallen from A$140mn to A$70mn last year. The multicultural SBS has seen its budget grow from A$259mn in 2008 to A$412mn in 2017. SBS staff numbers have grown from 844 to 1,466 over the same period with average salaries rising from A$82,689 to A$88,267 or 7.2%. Which begs the question why is the SBS able to operate at 31% of the budget in salaries while the ABC is at 50%? Surely the ABC’s economies of scale should work in its favour? Clearly not.

Australia’s largest commercial terrestrial station, Nine Network, has 3,100 employees against revenues of $1.237bn. So to put that into context, Nine can generate c. A$400,000 per employee whereas the ABC generates A$217,236 in tax dollars per employee. In a sense the ABC could be shut down, and each employee paid $108,000 in redundancy costs annually for two years simply by selling off the land, buildings and infrastructure. The SBS generates A$281,000 in tax dollars per employee. The ABC will argue it deserves $400,000/employee revenues rather than a 46% headcount reduction to be on equal terms with the efficiency in the private sector.

On a global basis, the BBC generates GBP 4.954bn and employs 21,000 staff. 22.7% of those revenues are spent on salaries. Average salaries have grown 17% since 2007/8. Average income per employee at the BBC is now GBP236,852 (A$428,000) thanks to the generous mandatory licensing fees. Average salaries at the Beeb are now GBP 55,651 ($A100,728).

Imagine if the ABC was listed and forced to compete. If it is infinitely confident it has the right content which captures future audience trends (which by its own measures doesn’t) then it can call whoever it wants a c*nt and see whether the ratings stack up when it comes time to attract revenue and capital. Why not give the ABC staff a choice to list and say what it wants or stay government owned and tow the line of the charter? Of course the answer is stay under the protectorate of blind politicians and say what they please. The beauty of the private sector is that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Is it really our ABC? There is no balance in content and even less balance in its accounts. It should be massively defunded.

Do you ever wonder why…

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…the majority would believe words like “demolished” from the press when the subject in question is a video driven by The Guardian pushing the even more Trump-hating journalism of Australia’s taxpayer funded ABC? Despite the ABC being controlled by a charter that says it mustn’t show political bias, it knows only one drum beat – join every Trump derangement cause without exception. It isn’t just this but whenever you see the words “demolished, destroyed, smashed” in a headline, discount its value by half then deduct another 75%. That will be about the extent of how “powerful” the report is. Viral? More like a bad bout of gastroenteritis. The walls of Washington were most likely reverberating with uncontrolled laughter.

Uhlmann can argue that Trump is the biggest threat to the West and he’s accelerating the decline of the US but it was 8 years under the Obama administration where Russia and China could run amuck with little fear of anything more than a hashtag in retaliation. It is more obvious that on foreign policy, the US is in a revival phase and her foes are sitting up and taking notice. Surely that hasn’t come about by chance.

Who cares if Merkel, Trudeau or Macron voice disapproval of the current US president? It isn’t new. Australian PM Turnbull is utterly mesmerized by Trump. While the mutual affection society of the ABC and its former minister Turnbull continue to mock POTUS he was the first to jump at the chance catch a ride in the Beast . That when he alighted spoke of how much he respects Trump and how much in common the two have (ppffft). The Aussie PM is petrified of DT in person. Turnbull loved Obama but never feared him.

The job of POTUS is not to join a chorus. True leadership is often doing things that aren’t popular. Dumping the Paris Climate Accord isn’t popular but it’s the right thing to do according to Americans and surveys in the US say as much. When one objectively studies the realities of the non-binding document it is clear the agreement is an empty one when countries like France & Germany step up to make up for the 75% of emitters that refuse to get on board.

Trump’s actions surrounding North Korea have the Chinese scurrying around looking for a solution that keeps the US from potentially influencing “the” border to its north. Isn’t that ‘leading the world’ by trying to get those that have the most to lose by suggesting the US will take control of the Korean Peninsula if they dither anymore? Notice B1-B Lancer bombers have been strafing the border on the 38th parallel with precision dummy bomb drills?  They aren’t for North Korea’s delectation but a message to China – stop messing about! Obama would have been dropping leaflets of peace, harmony and Hershey bars.

Under Obama’s watch China willfully built man made military bases in the South China Sea in contested waters taking advantage of his weakness. Xi knows there is a new sheriff in town and realizes he has to resort to another chapter in Sun Tzu.

The BBC – of all news channels – had a body language expert revealing that the alpha male show off in Hamburg between POTUS and Putin, had the former dominant over the latter. Putin is a master of bullying. Remember he had his intelligence arm find out Merkel was petrified of big dogs and made sure he had a monster canine wander around during their chat when she visited Russia? Doesn’t strike me that Trump is weak, unfit and out of his depth if Putin was nervous.

As more media coverage shows Trump as isolated and going it alone it isn’t the 1/20 being left out in the cold but the 19/20 who can’t get any edge on him.

As Uhlmann makes clear, he is just as clueless as so many other journalists because he makes no attempt to give context and perspective on the starting point. To think Obama led a period of American exceptionalism in foreign policy is preposterous. If Trump actually gets a positive outcome on North Korea or ISIS will Uhlmann issue an apology for his oversight? Let me give you a hint – not on your life.

I’ll happily admit when Trump does questionable things but I’ll make no apologies trying to address the ridiculous bias in the media against him. That bias remains so prevalent that it drowns out any noise that may actually be relevant to the Trump lovers who see no wrong.