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.”
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.