Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Privatise the ABC now !

In a 2004 article about the ABC and its funding, The Age wrote a strong piece lobbying the government to actually increase its funding to the ABC, relying on some dubious statistics and figures to support this.

The writer claims:

A second, more rarely used source of data is to look outward, to compare the ABC with public service broadcasters in other advanced democracies. The ABC ranks near the bottom, compared with national broadcasters in 16 other countries. In 1999, it ranked second-last in terms of revenue per head of population. It received $US29 per year, compared with the mean for the others of $US63.
So every Australian could save $40AUD per year if the ABC wasn't funded by Canberra. Yet the social elitists demand that we all pay our share for the broadcaster, saying its good value for money. Are they saying that there aren't individuals out there who would use $40/year on other priorities which they value more ? Some people struggle to pay for housing, clothing and food. Some students have trouble paying for textbooks, some parents struggly to raise children. Even middle class people struggle with mortgage repayments. Thousands of these people would no doubt, instantly take the $40 over the privilege of watching some publicly funded ABC programs.

The writer also claims that the ABC is efficient because it costs half as much as the commercial networks. (Forget the fact that it has ratings only half of what the commercial networks score).

Anyway, ignoring all of this, isn't it a simple statement of fact that as long as the ABC programs have some value to some people, then ABC can raise revenue through advertising ? If the "Friends of the ABC" think the ABC is so great, why don't they put their money where their mouth is and see if a privatised ABC can compete for advertising revenue and market share against the other commercial networks.

Why the case for public funding, where all people are forced to fund the ABC regardless of how viewers value its programming ?