Is it time for more Media Watch?

“We’ll be back on your screens in February,” Media Watch‘s Jonathan Holmes said last night. “Until then, keep well.”

But wait?

Who’s going to watch the media for the next three months, Jonathan?

We’ve got a Media Inquiry; a Convergence Review; a tender for the Australia Network that’s just been thrown out the window; the ACCC is investigating the Austar takeover; there are claims of networks making deals with a boy in Bali; investigations into pokies comments during the NRL; paywalls going up; the ABC backing out of miniseries funding; branded entertainment invading primetime; the government is crying foul over a news outlet’s agenda; Actor’s Equity is protesting government plans to allow more foreign actors here; The Australian hates the ABC; SBS is crying poor, Kim Kardashian is everywhere; Eddie is everywhere; Weekend Sunrise goes to blackout, everyone has an ‘Exclusive’ on A Current Affair and Today Tonight -and dear God, Kyle and Jackie O. are coming back to the box.

Won’t somebody think of the children?

I think Media Watch does a great job: fearlessly ‘righting’ wrongs, including on your ABC, and asking questions that others won’t.

Every week I tune in to see Jonathan Holmes straddle a line between defender of the public and smug English teacher. He’s a pretty perfect mix of information and entertainment, and sometimes he’s even downright cool (PWNED! being a great example).

But we have so much media hitting us everyday that the 15 minutes they have had since 1989 now falls short of the brief.

It’s too brief, Auntie.

Media is on our television, newspapers, radios, it’s on our desktops, mobile phones and iPads. We are simultaneously bombarded, entertained, informed, opinionated and confused. We are no longer content to be spoon-fed like we were in 1989. Media Watch, Frontline and the internet changed all that.

Each week the show is lucky to tackle three topics. Between television, radio, print and online that leaves a lot of material on the cutting room floor.

There just isn’t time to interview any of the key decision makers as Holmes has previously done with Mark Scott (ABC), Chris Mitchell (News Ltd) and Greg Hywood (Fairfax).

Since The Hamster Wheel has come along it’s pretty clear there is plenty of extra content to address, albeit with a comedic punchline.

ABC has an entire channel devoted to News so surely there is room to create a long-form version of the show that delves deeper into some of the week’s issues? And yes, I realise ABC News 24 has come in for a hiding from Holmes.

Even SKY Business has a half hour weekly show, MediaWeek, and while it doesn’t take the tone of ‘watchdog’, it’s never short of topics to discuss and guests to feature.

Here’s just a few topics that could have been tackled recently in a longer form show:
– WIN TV screens Sydney’s Nine News into Victoria
– Govt puts TV licence review on hold
– ACMA survey says we prefer overseas dramas
– Screen Australia survey says we prefer local content
– Coding a one hour show as two shows to get ‘higher ratings’
– Should digital channels have local content quotas?
– OzTAM plays hard on publishing of ratings data
– Analysis of Screen Australia’s 2010-11 Drama Report
– Has SBS paid too much for the World Cup rights?
Sunday Night says 15,000 people die in a Mexican city every year -was it one “0” too many?
– Seven stops Packed to the Rafters mid-season again
– Why didn’t ABC give Margaret & David a full hour to celebrate 25 Years?
– Ita Buttrose’s ex suing ABC over Paper Giants portrayal
Today screens old Beyonce footage after misleading publicity.

And that’s just for Television.

If we add Radio, Print and Online there’s a mountain of material that just doesn’t make it to air.

I want better of my Media Watch because I sure don’t feel I’m getting it from the official media watchdog, ACMA.

It’s time to respond to the 24/7 news cycle with a bigger platform and ABC News 24 is the place to do it.


  1. Show some class ~ Update this Headline! This story may be from last year but the relevance is never ending as the never ending material available for content in the medium. As far as funding is concerned, if the government continues to pour millions into ‘public service announcements’ of a variety of very questionable endeavors, the budget for Media Watch deserves to be increased 7 fold for a daily 15 minutes of concerted, transparent observation of the vast amount of mismanagement of Australian media! [And add a few bucks for wardrobe to allow a few more neckties for Mr. Holmes!]

  2. As good as MediaWatch is, it is its own worst enemy. For a 13-minute weekly show, it is extremely resource hungry. In a longer format, say 30 or 60 minutes, it would be very expensive to make for a show that is no more than a guy sitting at a desk talking. If you watch the credits, you will notice it takes A Lot of people to bring you those very good and important 13 minutes – and alot of them are full time positions. While I too would like to see more MW, i doubt whether the ABC in this time of economic concern, will throw endless dollars at a one-man show. it is a great show though. And when its all said and done, it only pulls 500K plus coming off the back of a show that pulls 600K plus.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.