Foreign Minister concerned over Australia Network

2014-01-02_0040Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is aware of concerns within her department over the Australia Network, under contract to the ABC.

The Australian reports she has concerns about whether the terms of the $223m contract were being met.

“I also have concerns about the quality of the programming and whether it is meeting the goal of promoting Australia’s interests overseas,” she said.

“It is meant to be a tool of public diplomacy and I am concerned by the level of negative feedback I receive from overseas.”

The ABC won the 10 year contract amid a badly-handled tender process under the previous Labor government, with SKY News, partly-owned by News Corp Australia, missing out.

But an ABC spokesman said the broadcaster had no concerns, saying, “The new agreement provides for ABC International to deliver a converged international media service to the region … This converged service provides opportunities to increase links between Australia and the region … The ABC works closely with DFAT to realise those opportunities.”

Current titles on Australia Network include a mix of News, Drama, Sport, Children’s, Lifestyle and Language including:

ABC News, Australian Story, Bondi Vet, Mr & Mrs Murder, Home and Away, A League, Giggle and Hoot, Country Town Rescue, The Block, Study English, Fashion Asia, Four Corners, ABC News Breakfast, Kitchen Cabinet, Packed to the Rafters, Agony Uncles and A Place to Call Home.

No sign of Border Security…..


  1. Funny how she raises “concerns” one day and the next the attack dogs are out with Piers Akerman basically singing from the same song sheet. It would be nice of these “shock jocks” and considered intellects like Akerman and Bolt went after the real problems in society such as alcohol fuelled violence. Sorry David for ranting.

  2. In Asia/Pacific regions broadcasters can access VOA-TV, DW, NHK, CCTV, BBC, and many other “propaganda” channels for their source programming. Aust Net is the service of choice, everywhere. Endless cycles of “(Insert country here) Today” are simply not watchable. Austn programs, with the “message” content interwoven is the accepted way. Hands off Julie. AN’s doing its job very well. Ask your foreign embassy staff. And Al Jazeera does a very good job on the News supply side thanks.

  3. Okay, so it’s begun.

    Anyone know when Rupert told Julie to make the move?

    And anyone know what he wants the next step will be?

    This government hates dissenting voices. And they need to remember what happened when Howard tried this just a decade ago.

  4. “It is meant to be a tool of public diplomacy and I am concerned by the level of negative feedback I receive from overseas.”

    Uhh, what? Does she mean “it’s meant to be a propaganda network”? Cos that’s kinda unsettling.

  5. Pertinax, Australia Network may not be a ‘public broadcaster’ per say (maybe more like ‘State TV’ in undemocratic countries), but it most certainly is *not* a private network. It is owned by the Commonwealth, thus making it a public good.

    You may say the tender process was completely political, but the mere fact Bishop is publicly raising her “concerns” about AN without stating what they exactly are is fundamentally a political act. There isn’t one single government function that doesn’t raise concerns for others in the community. Does the Government always give them air by echoing those concerns? No, of course not! But why this one? The answer is simply as A-B-C.

    As Andrew_83 wrote, they’re being very transparent here. This is nothing more than nakedly laying the groundwork for either taking AN off ABC, reducing domestic triennial funding in two years’ time, or both…

  6. It is the 2nd day of the year and we already have to right/The Australian attacking The ABC.

    David would you be able to start a tally for every time the Murdoch press/the right attacks the ABC?

  7. This is not the ABC or public broadcasting it is the Australia Network. It is not a public broadcaster but a private network run as a propaganda exercise for DFAT.

    The amount is equal to 1/5 of the total ABC budget for running TV, radio, internet and symphony orchestras in Australia. It produces little original content and is just broadcasting other stuff.

    DFAT are perfectly entitled to hold the ABC to what they agreed to. And cancel the contract if they aren’t meeting it.

    The tender was completely political with Rudd instituting it to stop the ABC doing it. The ALP Left and Greens rigged the tender to try and hand the money to the ABC as an under-the-table boost in their funding. But Sky News was still leading the battle so they just scrapped the tender and handed it to the ABC without tender.

  8. Ms Bishop & Co have concerns about everything the ABC does – just read The Australian! She might as well hand the Australia Network over to News Corp now & be done with the phony politics and “concerns”. This government will not rest until the ABC is ruined.

  9. “I am concerned by the level of negative feedback I receive from overseas.”
    How much “negative” -v- how much positive?
    “I also have concerns about the quality of the programming”. What would you like to see Julie? Sky News all day? Please explain?

  10. If Ms Bishop actually watched AN she would see that it’s not only the Australian program content but the “commercials” (trade, tourism, immigration etc.) that are also broadcast in and between the programs. In many countries (PNG, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomons, Samoa, Cook Islands etc.) AN is the main, if not sole FTA channel rebroadcast locally. Time zones is an issue meaning 5am PNG is 9am Rarotonga, necessitating repeats across the day.

  11. I think the current programming on Australia Network is OK. If anything, it needs to increase the number of children’s programs during the day and decrease the number of encores (some programs can be repeated up to 3 times after its first airing).
    I notice that AN has been showing first-run Australian shows just months or even weeks after they were shown here, including Paper Wars: Magazine Wars, Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch War, A Place to Call Home, and Mr and Mrs Murder. It means overseas audiences don’t have to resort to downloads to see them. I can’t see what they are complaining about?

  12. Well of course she is. This is the government that won’t give child care workers a pay rise; but will give tax breaks to people who can afford to employ a nanny. The same government which has demanded “editorial audits” of the ABC.

  13. I am not surprised this article came from Rupert Murdoch’s right wing, unprofitable ‘The Australian’ newspaper, which has been running an ongoing campaign against the ABC for years. I am also not surprised by Julie Bishop’s comments given the Coalition’s opposition to the fair and balanced news coverage the ABC provides. Of course the Labor Government botched the tender process when the Australia Network contract process occurred but still, this article and Bishop’s comments are nothing but hot air. Hasn’t she got better things to do like rebuilding our relationship with Indonesia, which she and her leader so badly damaged? And hasn’t the Australian got better things to report on, like what the public thinks of Tony Abbott’s plan to charge us $6 to see a doctor? Thought not…

  14. This government is so transparent! Anything thats not in Rupert Murdoch’s favour Liberal seem to be fixing for him. Abbott being the biggest puppet of all.

  15. “No sign of Border Security…..”

    Maybe that’s the problem…

    Ms. Bishop – “I also have concerns about the quality of the programming [It’s too high] and whether it is meeting the goal of promoting Australia’s interests [burning back the stoats] overseas”.

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