Last week ABC Chairman Justin Milne was in Canberra for the ABC Parliamentary Showcase event.
He was joined by various TV and radio presenters (it’s not clear if ‘Senator Cleaver Greene’ was amongst them).
With the broadcaster under siege over everything from funding to competition and editorial balance, he reiterated the importance of political scrutiny and how it stretches the dollar.
“Those funds now support an ABC which does much more with less. We used to cost Australians 8 cents a day but now, on the same measures, we cost just 4 cents a day despite the fact that our operation is far more complex than it has ever been. Our services are available to 99.6% of the population and most Australians see or hear our content each week. Importantly we are trusted by more than 80% of listeners, viewers and readers – a number which far exceeds all other media organisations in this country – and incidentally rose during our most recent survey,” he said.
“Trust is an important commodity. Especially when, increasingly around the globe, the norms of democracy are under challenge, institutions are questioned, and citizens are finding it harder to discern truth in an era of fake news, media manipulation and attempts to discredit and delegitimise the fourth estate.
“While not immune to these forces, by comparison Australia is relatively well served by strong institutions, a vibrant civil society, and electoral laws that include compulsory enrolment, preferential voting and electoral boundaries that are drawn by independent bodies.
“Of course, another critical factor is that Australia is well served by healthy and independent public broadcasters – ones that promote democratic debate, conduct investigative journalism, and provide an independent and trusted voice in a world of contested views.
“Yes, we public broadcasters can be a nuisance to politicians. But successful democracies depend on the checks and balances represented by the fourth estate, and by independent public broadcasters in particular, especially as the diversity of media ownership in Australia declines.”
You can read his full speech here.