Thursday, May 30, 2002

Gareth Parker points out nicely the problems with defending the ABC left-bias.

Apparently, it's all right for the ABC to have a bias, because the ABC

"draws between 10% and 15% of the national TV audience. I would imagine the figure is even less for radio"

Problem here is that Gareth would probably appreciate the influence of the ABC, and would be very proud of the reach and penetration of the national broadcaster. I've never met an ABC loyalist who wasn't quick to come out with the "ratings are not the only thing". So according to the Friends of the ABC, quality of programming is the important thing, unless this is construed as influence, in which case jump back to ratings.

So if Gareth could supply us with the ratings threshold he would consider to be the tipping point where the admitted bias does become a problem, and suggest a phasing-in plan for conservative commentators.

While you're at it Gareth, clue the rest of us in to the spot in the Charter that even mentions commercial broadcasters.

Gareth is having trouble distinguishing between public and private money. When a private institution operates contrary to its stated objectives, the shareholders take action according to Company Law, or vote with their wallets and sell. The activities of private sector firms cannot be equally compared with public money. The only people with a stake in the bias of commercial broadcasters are the shareholders.

The ABC, however, is a public institution, with carefully laid down obligations. In fact, a close reading of the Charter would suggest that it should be far closer to commercial radio, since the rating show that's what people believe in. After all, they are charged with reflecting the diversity, not moving it.

Mike Nahan in The Australian lays out what is obvious to a lot of people who neither work for the ABC, or know people who work there. That is, the ABC has a consistent left of centre bias.

Now a certain number of people will wearily dispute this claim, so for those people, try this test:

When was the last time you heard something on the ABC that seriously challenged your personal values? Have you ever seen or heard anyone on the ABC tell you that capitalism was a good idea? How about a pro-mining program? Perhaps a sympathetic portrayal of a Liberal politician? Does the ABC Staff Association really expect us to believe they would have gone on strike if the Chairman of the ABC Board had attended an ALP function?

I personally watch the ABC for gob-smacking science programs, and some very funny local and overseas shows. But if you consider yourself a "progressive", and you think you'll encounter a new idea about the world's problems, then you're sadly mistaken. You'll be educated, informed and amazed at times. But you will rarely, if ever, see an ABC program that deviates from the company line.

And don't give me the bit about balancing commercial broadcasting. Firstly, there is no mandate in the ABC Charter to do this. In fact, the Charter specifically charges the Corporation to reflect the views of the Australian public. Given that the overwhelming majority of the electorate voted in favour of current immigration policies, it's hard to see them doing their job well.

Secondly, the "balancing" argument falls apart as soon as you consider what would happen in the event of a commercial drift to the left? Would Phillip Adams morph into Stan Zemanek (Rush Limbaugh for the US cousins). The idea is as silly as it sounds.

The ABC's one attempt with "the Continuing Crisis" failed due to an incredible lack of promotion, and reluctance to invest time or resources into a program that they were happy to see didn't rate immediately. Unless and until the ABC can point to announcers to counter the well-known bias of their commentators, they will remain open to and distracted by allegations of bias.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Tim Blair had this story yesterday, while I was still throttling the links system.


This article from Alan Woods in The Australian shows the anti-business crew have found yet another way into the boardroom. This time they're calling it "corporate social responsibility". I call it time to get your money out.

As a former company director, I can tell you this: it's hard enough to make correct decisions on behalf of shareholders when the rules are known. There are more than enough regulations to protect the environment, work safety, you name it. If these regs are not sufficient, make them better.

But do not make directors responsible to something as fluid as "community responsibility". Whose community? Yours? Mine? Employees? What about the fifteen towns the product travels through to get to the store?

No responsible investor will put money into a company that does not have the welfare of the investor as the first priority in every decision. Remember, if the company goes belly up, investors are just about last in line to get their money back. Tax, employees, secured creditors, these are all in front. That's why you here about shareholders getting only a few cents in the dollar.

Who's going to tell the Board what comprises "community responsibility"? They're obviously not qualified to serve as Directors themselves, or they'd be in the job. Immediately, the quality of advice has fallen, and your superannuation (401k) with it.

"Community responsibility" will be a shifting goal that means all things to all people. When I attend a board meeting, I want to know where I stand, either as director or shareholder. And think about this: Directors who want to stay out of trouble will stay away in droves from companies like this. Who's left? People who either don't know or don't care that there is no objective measure of their performance in the job. That is, ignorant or stupid.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Does anything shit me more than these people ?

“Yeah, we want to make a series that shows what life is really like for young singles in Australia. So we’ll have a lawyer who objects to making money, an actor who wants to quit his $90,000 per year soap opera to pursue his craft, and a doctor who doesn’t own a car.

“What about a union officer who goes for a spot of workplace rumpy-pumpy and a writer with no visible means of support?” “Cool! And we’ll send him to the USA for a writing grant” “The USA? Better send him somewhere more colourful first”

And then they put in Melbourne where apparently it never bloody rains!

Monday, May 27, 2002


James Morrow talks gooder about aboriginal domestic violence than I can.

BACK TO THE REFUGEES: and back to civil discourse, too.

Jack Robertson says (assuming he means it, and is not exaggerating for effect) that Australia has

no judicial, moral or intellectual grounds on which to urge others to embrace 'civilisation' in their own countries

since our laws here require that all persons here without authorisation be detained until their status is determined by suitably comprised tribunal. In other words, ANY deficiency in our laws, as assessed by Jack, negates our ability to press for greater human rights in other countries. No gay marriage? Hey, you’re as bad as him.
What’s that? Not enough women in your parliaments? Time for your re-education Boyo.
You mean to say you’re only taking in the second-highest rate of refugees per capita in the world? SECOND? How dare you lecture us!
By the look of it, Jack reckons that unless you are a nation newly born, with no blemish on your record of ever dealing with the vast array of scumbags that are in power, then keep your nose out of our internal affairs thank you very much.

I know insisting on perfection as the price of participation is a free ticket to that warm inner glow of righteous indignation, but it’s hardly helpful in a world where there are sucking black holes of humanity who HAVE TO BE DEALT WITH.

Is Jack incapable of recognising that a liberal democracy is EXACTLY who should be doing the lecturing on human rights, and has every right to do so, in fact has a certain level of duty to lecture? If not us, then who? Will anyone thank us if we smack ourselves in the forehead and say to the 20 million refugees in the world that will never come here “Sorry! I don’t know what we were thinking talking to your President for Life about his penchant for summary execution when we were detaining people for months, sometimes many months! We’ll leave you to it, shall we?”

Jason Soon at Catallaxy Files neatly skewers failed Parliamentary candidate Greg Barns
Barns is a paid up member of the “I disagree with you so you’re a nazi” school of social criticism. I had thought we were past this type of lazy thinking, but there are always “progressives” ready to lead us boldly back to simpler days when all you had to do was scream “racist”, and your opponent would slink off (are you listening Mr Corr?).

Phillip Adams quotes Tony Judt, director of the Remarque Institute at New York University, asking "If he [Sharon] ever gets rid of Arafat, and the bombers keep coming, as they will, what will Sharon do then?"

I'll ask the other question that self-proclaimed pro-Israeli Adams must have overlooked: If Arafat (or whoever) signs a peace agreement, and the bombers keep coming, what then?

Adams describes Robert Fisk as " arguably the best informed journalist on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict". Doesn't this level of idiocy just about say it all?

Here is a simple reason why Arafat will never sign a peace agreement with Israel. He will be signing his own death warrant. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and even the Martyr's Brigade have shown that they are not answerable to Arafat or his security apparatus. They have stated repeatedly that they will not accept the right is Israel to exist. Ever.

I am confident that Arafat would not last the week after signing a peace agreement. And why would anyone believe such an agreement would be honoured? Arafat does not have the "monopoly on force" in her territory. Hamas proved that when Palestinian police went to arrest senior Hamas officials last year.

Do I know what the solution is? I'd start with some very pointed questioning of the UN' s role in maintaining the world's longest running refugee camps. Then I'd be asking in big brave voice why Palestinians are not accepted as citizens anywhere in the Middle East except Israel, and that perhaps instead of holding telethons, the Saudis might like to offer permanent resettlement. Maybe the oil states could divert, say, one hour's oil revenue and give every Palestinian a million dollars and a resident visa?

Whose interests does it serve to keep those poor bastards where they are? What purpose does it achieve? Well, for starters, when the papers are yelling about the Israeli occupation of territory that hosted the last war machine to come over the hill, they are unable to focus on the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, which show no sign of ending, and since the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon, has no justification whatsoever.

But I guess I'm just not "well-informed" enough. I can't choose genocide over an easy six o'clock lead story.

Paul Sheehan shows why his was one of the few books on Australian politics that was walking off book counters around the country.

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