Why is it our two public broadcasters ABC and SBS can’t seem to get along?
We always seem to be hearing about digs from one side of the fence to the other with about as much regularity as Sydney and Melbourne or Holden and Ford. Is it not clear to both that there is a place on our screens for two networks?
We love the light entertainment on the ABC. We love its news and current affairs. Those British period pieces and crime thrillers are terrific. And on SBS Top Gear is an institution. We would be lost without Eurovision, Iron Chef, Skins, RocKwiz and its wonderful ‘arthouse’ progamming.
It’s back in the public spotlight after SBS moved to defend its need for advertising, amid calls by a Greens Senator to minimise its ads.
A (nameless) SBS spokeswoman told The Australian today, “Increasingly we do have to be reliant on (advertising),”
“If the government did remove it, it would have to increase our (funding).”
Fair enough. But in a dig at the ABC, the spokeswoman added, “The ABC doesn’t choose to be commercial-free.
“That’s a policy decision.”
The comments follow ABC chief executive Mark Scott giving a speech to commonwealth broadcasters in London last week that it was a mistake for public broadcasters to accept advertising, as around the world it generally meant governments stopped increasing their funding.
“I remember meeting with the heads of the Korean and Canadian public broadcasters, both reliant on advertising as well as government funding for their television services,” Mr Scott said. “Their experience was the same. Effectively, they had experienced no government funding increase for a quarter of a century. They are told if they want more money, they should get it themselves.”
Network rivalry is usually confined to commercial networks who are all chasing advertising dollars. But if we’re to presume the public broadcasters get hot under the collar over government funding then maybe they should remember that triennial issue was resolved in May for the next three years.
At the time there was even talk both might have to share some resources in administration. And then there was the case of ABC backtracking on a deal to give SBS access to archival footage over two John Howard documentaries.
It seems there’s always a prickly response whenever these two networks are placed in the same sentence.
How our 5 Free to Air networks ever negotiated their way through a playing field for Freeview is one of the industry’s newest mysteries.
Maybe Senator Conroy ought to summon these two to his office and bang their corporate heads together. Or at least tell them to get a room…
Source: The Australian