ABC to keep running Australia Network as Conroy cancels tender
The Government has terminated the Australia Network tender process, and will extend the ABC's operations by six months, while the AFP investigates tender leaks to media.
The Gillard Government has terminated the Australia Network tender process, and will extend the ABC’s operations by six months, while the Australian Federal Police investigates tender leaks to media.
“The advice which the Government has received is that due to significant leaks of confidential information to the media, the Australia Network tender process has been compromised to such a degree that a fair and equitable outcome may no longer be able to be achieved,” Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said.
“As a result, the Government has taken the decision that it is in the best interests of both tender parties, and the Government, that the process be terminated. The Government has asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate the leaks.
“The Government is extremely disappointed that such leaks have occurred and that the process has been compromised.
“This decision has not been taken lightly but the Government believes that the advice received about the tender process leaves no other option.”
The ABC will continue to manage Australia Network until August 2012.
The outcome follows delays within the government over delays on a decision of the tender process, and changes from Kevin Rudd to Stephen Conroy’s portfolio.
SKY News which was in a contest for the contract has previously lodged a formal complaint with the Department of Foreign Affairs over alleged lobbying of a senior cabinet ministers.
Today in an email to staff, ABC Managing Director Mark Scott welcomed the news.
“The Corporation appreciates the opportunity to discuss with the Government the future role international broadcasting can play across the region, providing insights into modern Australian life for audiences on radio, television and online,” he wrote.
“The role and nature of international broadcasting is changing as countries around the world respond to the exciting opportunities of digital media. The Australia Network is a wonderful opportunity to showcase Australian democracy in action, the best of our cultural, artistic and sporting life and deliver a credible and independent news service to the region.
“I particularly want to the thank the staff of Australia Network, the Asia-Pacific News Centre and all in the ABC International team for their dedication and professionalism over recent months given the uncertainty of the Australia Network tender outcome. They have continued to work diligently to provide services across the Asia-Pacific region of high quality and integrity. I am sure they will welcome the news of the contract extension announced today.”
The Government will now make a decision on the long term arrangements no later than the end of March.