In a thoughtful opinion piece in today’s Australian newspaper, Malcolm Colless asks a question that will be resonating through the corridors of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: whether the ABC is the appropriate organisation to build Australia's image internationally. “If not,” says Colless, “it should be uncoupled from this role.”
Colless takes as his starting point the Federal Government's review of national broadcasting, launched last week and argues that this offers Kevin Rudd with an ideal opportunity to demonstrate he is serious about enhancing Australia's profile in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Surely what we need is a strong and credible international voice if we believe that our contribution to, and significance in, the region should be taken seriously,” he says. “Failure to take a hard look at this will show that the Government, despite the rhetoric about Australia's future role in the Asia-Pacific zone, is not prepared to risk bruising precious egos in Foreign Affairs or at the ABC. And the result will be that we will continue to be saddled with an international broadcasting service whose primary function seems to be to deliver sporting programs to expats in hotels and Australian diplomatic missions across the region.”
“But to do this he has to first walk through a minefield of political correctness and challenge the shibboleths extolling the sanctity of editorial independence inside the ABC, something that has entrenched support from the bureaucracy. Failure to confront this issue will leave Australia hopelessly outgunned in the rapidly developing communications battle for relevance in the region.”
Source: ABC not up to engaging with the neighbours’, Malcolm Colless, The Australian, 28 October 2008