Pointless Peppa Pig headlines distract from proper debate

2014-05-29_0147The axe potentially falling on Peppa Pig may make for great press copy, but real debates about ABC cuts should be about Australian productions not imported animated shows.

Especially ones that are really in no danger at all.

Yesterday stories about ABC cuts were upstaged by talk of the British pre-school show supposedly in peril.

Peppa Pig bound for Abbottoir?,” wrote News Corp.

Peppa Pig may not survive ABC budget cuts, Mark Scott tells Senate estimates” wrote ABC Online.

“ABC raises doubts about Peppa Pig‘s future,” wrote SKY News.

“Is children’s favourite Peppa Pig off to the abattoir?” write the Daily Mail.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten even warned: “The Prime Minister’s run out of actual people to pick on, so now he’s started picking on Peppa Pig.”

But there’s nothing that personifies broadcast cuts like a catchy title that’s the favourite of toddlers and their parents. The pig was also trending on social media (you can bet your bottom dollar a Peppa Pig-related tweet will also make its way onto Q & A next Monday). It makes for much better drama than a story about boring old ABC reporters, or some local show that hasn’t attracted much in the ratings.

Peppa Pig was singled out because Labor senator Louise Pratt asked ABC Managing Director at a Senate Estimates hearing if “Peppa Pig is safe from cuts, particularly from conservatives concerned about her dangerous feminist ideology?”

It was a reference to Piers Akerman’s recent News Corp column that the show “pushes a weird feminist line that would be closer to the hearts of Labor’s Handbag Hit Squad than the preschool audience it is aimed at.”

Scott told the committee yesterday, “We have contracts to continue to deliver Peppa Pig, but of course the service we provide depends on the funding envelope provided.”

So there.

Cuts to the ABC are very real. Peppa Pig will continue to be produced by the Brits, and is no significant drain on ABC budgets.

The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman told The Australian the ABC should ­“improve its work practices and operate more efficiently in its day-to-day operations to achieve the one-off 1 per cent efficiency dividend.

“So rather than butchering Peppa Pig, the ABC could, as a suggestion, consider trimming the fat off overseas broadcasts for Q and A which Senate estimates was told today cost in excess of $200,000 per show,” she said.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull added, “If Peppa were at risk, and she is not, then I would lead the charge to save her bacon.’’

Frankly it’s a bit insulting to ABC staff, and local animators facing cuts at Screen Australia, to get worked up over a British import that is in no credible danger at all.


  1. oceanographer

    You can always count on the Media to cover these meaningless stories ahead of the real issues. They did the same thing condoning the Packer and Gyngell fight yet in just a couple of weeks the media condemn brawls in the Sydney CBD. Hypocrites.

  2. jezza the first original one

    @labonce, no one is talking very sensibly about the ABC, many are making jokes about PPig, so not very good pr at all, just dumb stupid jokes, while some folk will be worried about their future…

  3. You expect serious debate from politicians?

    Efficiency dividends have been applied to federal public services since the 80s (though they haven’t resulted in any efficiencies). Scott said that they had found $40m of them down the back of sofa so no problem so far.

  4. It’s actually very smart PR. Everyone’s talking about it, and Malcolm Turnbull has already stepped in. The public are finally engaging. What’s wrong with that?

  5. HardcorePrawn

    Agreed. Peppa Pig is going nowhere, she’s too valuable for the ABC, and no commercial network would pick up the show as they couldn’t cram adverts into its short running time.

    I think it is of far greater importance to highlight the loss of jobs, the likely degradation of services and programs at the ABC and SBS, and the PM’s broken promise regarding “no cuts to the ABC or SBS”.

  6. This is just the ABC using the same “dumb it down” tactics that the LNP use to reach the lowest common denominator on issues like Asylum Seekers. ‘Fight fire with fire’ isn’t inherently a bad plan.

  7. As if Peppa Pig will go from the ABC. I recon the ABC are making the biggest profit from the show. Any parent here with pre-school kids will know how much money they’ve spent already on DVD and toys from the ABC shop!

  8. Exactly, David. Well said. The other issue here is the government/News Corp obsession with Q&A. They really don’t like a diversity of views contrary to their own, even though government members regularly appear on the show. News Corp ran a poll yesterday asking which of the two show should be axed. Ridiculous!.Neither!

  9. jezza the first original one

    It sounds like all sides are to blame (head of abc inckuded) for the furore about PPig. They have all trivialised the quite sensible debate about spending/waste around a kids show.

    The abc mgt choose where to make the cuts, so instead of looking at efficiencies and lowering the salaries of some over paid presenters (eg Melbourne local radio 774 presenters) they aim at headline grabbing soundbites

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