Some time ago, I wrote a piece about how the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) was being ‘dumbed down’, as part of a process which will end with the organisation being privatised1. Apart from the continual cuts to the ABC’s budget, and the concomitant lying about it, the first recent step in the process was the installation of Michelle Guthrie as managing director in 2016. Now it is being shown how the dumbing down will continue. The ABC will launch a new service, called ABC Life. It is supposed to cover such topics as work, career, sex, relationships, fashion, grooming, travel, adventure, food, cooking, home, family and pets2. It is a plunge into the oxymoronic world of lifestyle journalism. The way this will aid the drive by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and its minions in government to privatise the organisation, is by giving the commercial television industry and online news media more to complain about, as this is the sort of lifestyle drivel which occupies a fair proportion of their programming. This also provides grist for Murdoch’s News Corp mill whose enemy is anything owned by the public. This constant carping, and blackmail of the government by One Nation, has led to the government announcing an enquiry into the ‘competitive neutrality’ of the ABC and SBS (Special Broadcasting Service)3. Although the head of the enquiry, retired economist Robert Kerr, said that viewers have nothing to fear from the enquiry4, whenever the Government and One Nation have much to do with just about anything, it will most likely end in a shambles. Kerr also seems to be under the misapprehension that the results of his review will be released or even heeded by the government, especially if it finds that things are just fine.
The One Nation demanded review was in exchange for them supporting the Turnbull government’s relaxation of media ownership rules. One Nation is also behind the push to decrease the budget of the ABC (again) by hundreds of millions and, pathetically, calling for the publication of the salaries of ABC staff. The government is most likely using this review as another way of kicking the ABC. This was also indicated by Minister for Communications and IPA alumnus, Mitch Fifield, who stated that the review should probably also “look at whether the ABC is acting within its charter”2. This is a common refrain from those who wish to terminally damage the ABC.