IPA Today

Episode 5: How To Fix The ABC

Written by
22 November 2021

The fifth and final episode of Their ABC: What’s wrong with the ABC and how to fix it is aptly titled How to fix the ABC, this episode brings together a range of solutions on how to reign in ABC’s unjust power and bias.

In this final episode, features from some of Australia’s sharpest thinkers – Peta Credlin, Chris Mitchell, Janet Albrechtsen, Chris Kenny, Chris Berg, Sinclair Davidson, Gemma Tognini Maurice Newman, Rowan Dean and more – as they explore the ABC’s place in the media market and the various ways in which it can be made more accountable.

You can listen to episode 5 of Their ABC, ‘How to fix the ABC’, on Soundcloud, SpotifyPodbean, Apple Podcast or YouTube.

Nothing remains off the table in this episode, including the courageous option of getting rid of this biased and bloated national broadcaster altogether.

Exclusive polling revealed in The Daily Telegraph for the Their ABC podcast reveals that 43% of Australians believe it is unfair that Australians who don’t watch the ABC are still required to pay for it, 30% disagree with that proposition, while 28% neither agree nor disagree.

In effect, majority of Australians would have no qualms with the ABC becoming a subscription service, where Australians who are keen to consume their ABC can pay for it in subscription fee, instead of their taxes. And the rest needn’t pay for it at all. How successful would a subscription-based ABC be? The editor of The Spectator Australia Rowan Dean speculates:

If you then launched the ABC’s subscription, like Sky, I don’t know what it would cost, but it wouldn’t be that much more than that. Maybe two or three times or whatever. But people would go, “Yeah, okay. Fair cop. I’ll go and pay for it now. Yeah. I enjoy it that much I’ll pay for it.”

But the majority would say, ‘Can’t be bothered.” You know, “I’ve put that money elsewhere.”

In order to understand how it could be done, I speak to Professor Phillip Booth from the Institute for Economic Affairs in the UK, who has researched pathways to convert BBC into a subscription service (for many of the same reasons as the ABC).

The episode also explores how to privatise the ABC.

Associate Professor at RMIT University (and former IPA Senior Fellow) Dr Chris Berg puts this radical option on the table:

I don’t think the government should have any role funding media organisation, there’s no real reason to believe, no convincing or compelling reason to believe that there is a market failure in the production of media.

The only reason we have the ABC, the only reason the ABC is so persistent is because we’ve just always had it.

Former ABC Chair Maurice Newman too sees privatisation as the only solution, disabusing those who think the ABC can just be reformed with a good board and Managing Director.

Been there, done that. It doesn’t work. I think John Howard appointed me, Janet Albertson, Judith Sloan… And I could regale you with stories where it was quite clear there was no intention ultimately to reform.

I believe it is an irredeemable situation. I think that the culture is now so deeply ingrained that it’s almost like a cancer. You won’t eradicate it.

Their ABC was made possible by our 8,000 IPA members.
You can join the stand against the ABC too. By becoming a member of the IPA you’ll be supporting more research like this podcast to hold the ABC accountable.

For $55 you can become a member of the IPA and receive exclusive subscriber only content, like early access to full episodes, special bonus episodes, extended full interviews with our high-profile guests, and an “It’s Their ABC” bundle including a bumper sticker, stubbie holder and tote bag.

All that plus the other benefits of IPA membership, including our quarterly magazine the IPA Review, priority and exclusive access to IPA events and regular email updates from the IPA team.

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Evan Mulholland

Evan Mulholland is the Director of Communications at the Institute of Public Affairs

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