The former MediaWatch addicts in this domicile all agree that the present season is pure drivel. MW was at one time must-see; truly the most powerful 15 minutes in Australian weekly television- but has been severely diluted and white-anted post the addition of Howard’s ringers to the ABC board. MW has devolved nearer to its earliest incarnation, too often nitpicking typos and other fluffs, far away from its investigative peak when David Marr was in the chair, shredding Cash-for-Commenters and the like. This season’s inclusion of talking head comments from investigation targets allows MW episodes to be hijacked, wasting several of those scant 15 minutes.
Oh- but it’s all for the sake of balance, of course… as if MW investigation targets don’t have access to media to tell their end of the tale. I’d rather see MW off the air as it was in 2002 during the reign of the evil Jonathan Shier than to see it go half-measures.
Indeed, the media story of the past week was Mary Kostakidis’ stoush with SBS on the basis that SBS in general but SBS News in particular are being twisted too far out of their original, public servant shapes, as part of the Howard Government’s War On Multiculturalism- and MW completely passed it up… but why? Would such expose endemic government interference in both the national broadcasters? All the news outlets, print and TV, which did have a crack at the story let SBS management get off soft-pedaling the claim of ‘no problem, poor poor Mare’s just feeling a bit peaked this week, honest, got a med cert from her, no worries here…’
Anyone who discounts the value of a fully government-funded national broadcaster with ‘arm’s-length’ language in its charter doesn’t have a clue of how rare such an arrangement is on a global scale. National broadcasters certainly do exist, but on balance, they don’t operate at arm’s length from government- in fact, most national broadcasters are primary government propaganda organs, a statistic not lost in any way at all on John Howard and his political advisers.
Bias and the mere appearance thereof are built in to any news op which accepts commercial advertising. The loss of SBS from being free from apparent bias through their former funding model to their present hot pursuit of ratings is a loss of massive proportions to the Australian public. Editorial judgments designed to attract ratings have fundamentally different outcomes than those made for the sake of pure journalistic considerations. Given the 15% drop in SBS’s ratings since going commercial, the viewing public are not exactly fooled.
Even the venerable American NPR and PBS, while somewhat insulated from US government pressure by virtue of how little the Corporation for Public Broadcasting actually contributes to the operations, have taken large tranches of funding from oil companies, big pharma, global-scale commodities producers like Archer Daniels Midland and so on for quite some time now. The quality of PBS programming has suffered to the point where even the venerated McNeil NewsHour is simply a recap of stories run in US commercial media. There’s no adventurism, no risk-taking when you might honk off the major sponsors.
9 Comments so far
Leave a comment
Leave a comment