Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The pond aims at SBS style ** ratings by featuring Malcolm Turnbull ...

(Above: First Dog having fun with the Daily Murd and media diversity. And the full cartoon and more First Dog here).

No doubt the pond should start off by relishing Media Watch's up date on the reptiles at the lizard Oz wilfully changing the meaning of a letter to the editor, and Chris Mitchell feeling the need to write an apology, in which, instead of talking of "selective" editing, he talks of "poor editing" ...

The tone of the emailed note, with a concluding "cheers" is so offensive that if the pond had been Peter Farrell of Monarto (oh dreams of Don Dunstan dreaming), it would have been taken as an offensive, condescending attempt to rub salt into wound ...

Talk about a cosmic comedy with no apparent consequences within the fortified paranoid castle, but today the pond's attention was drawn to a different form of tragedy, as media diversity shrinks and the funding for alternative forms of media face more and more pressure ...

SBS is a modern form of broadcaster tragedy.

And it's a measure of the delusional lifestyle that Malcolm Turnbull leads these days that he can't or won't see it and acknowledge it  ...

On the departure of Joe Skrzynski, big Mal said:

"Joe Skrzynski has been an outstanding chairman of SBS, a role in which he brought together his years of business experience, his deep and lived experience of multiculturalism and his passionate commitment to Australian arts and culture. SBS is a stronger organisation for his leadership and on behalf of the Government I thank him for his service in this important role."

Now the pond has nothing against Mr. Skrzynski and no dog in the fight but "a stronger organisation"?

SBS is currently a woeful broadcaster, with woeful content clearly arising from a lack of cash, and a lack of nous in terms of doing interesting things with limited cash.

Is there anything more woeful?

Well yes, it turns out that Fairfax, courtesy of Matthew Knott, ran an EXCLUSIVE story:

What's so EXCLUSIVE?

Well you can read Matthew Knott's EXCLUSIVE in Malcolm Turnbull rolled by Tony Abbott on reappointment of SBS head Joseph Skrzynski if you like.

Or you can head off to read the press release SBS Chair, Joe Skrzysnki AO, Steps Down. (You can also find it at SBS here, but SBS has such a wretched website, the pond thought it would give IF magazine a plug).

The only "exclusive" is Knott's attempt to portray the resignation as Turnbull having been rolled by Abbott, except when you read on and get to the revelation Mr Skrzynski was effectively sacked around Christmas when he was informed he would have to reapply for his job.

Which brings us to Knott's EXCLUSIVE insight:

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull lost an internal battle with Prime Minister Tony Abbott over whether businessman Joseph Skrzynski should be appointed to a second term as SBS chairman. Fairfax Media understands Mr Turnbull lobbied strongly for the investment banker - whose five-year term expires next Wednesday - to remain in the position but was overruled by the Prime Minister's office.

Before Christmas.

Talk about re-heating waffles.

And then the pond came to this:

Since his appointment in 2009, Mr Skrzynski has overseen successful programs such as Go Back to Where You Came From, the launch of NITV as a free-to-air indigenous television channel and an overhaul of foreign language radio programs.

Which is a pathetic short form summary of the more guarded way that the original press release goes about this sort of business:

Over the past five years, SBS TV programming has been distinguished through the delivery of ground-breaking national and international award-winning Australian programs like Go Back to Where You Came From 1 and 2, which shone a light on the refugee experience; Immigration Nation, which went to the heart of what it means to be part of multicultural Australia; East West 101 and Better Man. These programs exemplify the essence of the unique SBS Charter, which is to reflect the diversity of Australian society and which speak to our multicultural society in a way no other broadcaster does. During his chairmanship, there has been a major review of the SBS Radio Schedule to reflect Australia’s changing migration patterns, extending to 74 the weekly radio in-language programs, the launch of NITV as Australia’s first national free-to-air Indigenous television channel, incorporation of subscription channels World Movies and STUDIO and the relaunch of SBS 2 to bring younger Australians to SBS.

Note to Knott: you won't find in that any blather about Mr Skrzysnki having overseen successful programs. If he was busy overseeing successful programs, he'd have been a chairman who woefully misunderstood his job.

Which brings us to why Skrzynski was a chairman who presided over the continuing woeful decline of SBS. There's a clue in that press release:

 ... incorporation of subscription channels World Movies and STUDIO ...

What's a public broadcaster, funded by government, with a FTA remit to speak to "our multicultural society in a way no other broadcaster does" doing with a couple of subscription channels? What's it doing propping up, in however a humble a way, Foxtel's business model, by running content on channel 430 for World Movies?

This is at the expense, if only by way of a window, of ordinary punters:

World Movies is owned and operated by SBS Subscription TV, a subsidiary of the free-to-air broadcaster SBS. The two have a close working relationship, with films premiering on World Movies 12 months before becoming available on SBS. (Greg Hunt it here)

And STUDIO does the same for the arts. Do your Greg Hunt here, and check out the programming here.

Now nobody much cares - after all, you can get more than enough André Rieu and Celtic Thunder on the main channel, enough to last several million lifetimes for the pond.

But what's SBS doing shoving its arts programming on to subscription television just so Foxtel can run this promo?

Meanwhile, arts programming on SBS is a basket-case, with a few drips and drops of a Saturday afternoon, and other bits stuffed into chinks and cracks here and there.

But then the entirety of programming on SBS is a basket-case. It's astonishing that the foreign language product of the world could be reduced to such an unappetising brew.

And it goes without saying that the re-badging of the second channel has been a flop. Use SBS 2 to younger Australians to SBS? Now there's a cosmic joke ...

So what have we got? Soccer, food safaris, the franchise Who Do You Think You Are?, a dash of local programming, and a news service which at least looks at the world, and some specialised foreign language drama offerings, and after that ... well why not just sign up to Foxtel?

As for NITV, it's a programming tragedy unfolding on a daily basis, and once again the primary cause is a lack of cash.

The pond regularly drops in on the station, but that's because the pond has an interest in ancient documentaries and dramas that you won't find airing anywhere else.

Women of the Sun? Watch it turn up again and again, and never mind that its first outing was on SBS back in 1981.

Wisely NITV spends its few available dollars on indigenous events and news, and on covering a substantial amount of sport of an indigenous kind.

But the rest of the schedule is full of relentless repeats, and borrowed, ancient programming that is recycled relentlessly to fill in the 24/7 cycle.

Now the pond doesn't blame Mr Skrzynski for all this. He was sold a dump by the Howard government, and its previous board, which drove SBS into the ground. It's unreasonable to expect Mr Skrzynski to have got it back into the air, given that the network is running on the smell of oily rags.

Both SBS and NITV were shamefully ignored by the Labor government, and now it turns out that big Mal is delusional about how spiffing they are ...

So we get this sort of rhetorical tosh:

Mr Skrzynski, a Polish refugee whose family arrived in Australia in 1950, initiated a strategic review of SBS resulting in a revitalised expression of the SBS Charter, which then led to a period of transformation of the organisation in an environment of significant changes in Australian society and in broadcast media.

A strategic review?

But what about the dearth of decent programming? Unless you happen to want to watch Nazis in colour, filmed from the air, on a Friday night ...

Actually what the pond hears is that morale at the SBS bunker in Artarmon continues at an all time low, difficult to imagine given the way it's been at an all time low for what feels like an all time forever ...

Once upon a time, there would have been agonised, perhaps agonising analyses of the state of SBS, and why its news service has been reduced to being a rump outpost of Al Jazeera (at least until the ABC began to steal that source too), and what might be done to organise a provocative, relevant, active broadcaster that could reach not just its ostensible ethnic audiences but out into the mainstream and carry a little of that interesting cultural worldliness with it ...

But nobody much cares, and the best we get these days is Matthew Knott explaining how big Mal and Joseph Skrzynski got rolled by Tony Abbott, despite Mr Skryzniski having overseen a successful program ...

Will things get under big Mal?

Will the NBN be built out of anything better than cabbages, sealing wax and copper?

Lordy, lordy, look how time flies when you're having sub-titled fun.

Well that's cut the pond's demographic and readership and ratings down to ** SBS levels ...

We barely have enough time to note that Nick "the Caterist" Cater has fulfilled his Tuesday duties to the reptiles by issuing the stern injunction Abbott must fix problems in Race Act (inside the paywall to reduce the harm of Caterism).

It's just the usual stuff, more tedious than watching some SBS programs, wherein for yet another time the Bolter matter is exhumed and kicked around.

Whatever else you can say, it seems fair to note that the reptiles and the Bolter are obsessed with race and racial matters, or should that be "race" and "racial" matters?

There are many bon mots, but this is one of the best:

It is difficult to mount a cogent defence of the law as currently worded, but the Race Discrimination Commissioner gave it his best shot in an impenetrable 7000-word speech delivered earlier this month. Tim Soutphommasane, an academic philosopher by trade, nit-picked his way through the works of Isaiah Berlin, Voltaire, John Stuart Mill and others as he attempted to define “the concept of freedom”. It is a laboured argument irrelevant to the present debate. For Liberals of Abbott’s persuasion, liberty is not just a matter for philosophical discussion but something one feels in one’s gut.

You just feel it in your gut?  What, liberty is a kind of bolus, or perhaps digesting enzymes such as pepsin, or hydrochloric acid? (yes, the pond did a Greg Hunt here)

It's such a stupidly reductionist concept that the pond feels in its gut the joy of still being able to call Caterists fuckwits of the first water ...

Meanwhile, the Caterist makes a bold prediction:

Critics from both the Left and Right are predicting that the Prime Minister and his Attorney-General will pull their punches. 
They are wrong. They underestimate how deeply Abbott and others of a classical liberal persuasion are offended by the perverse consequences of 18C. They underestimate the chilling effect the act’s provisions have on those who hold the freedom of expression as a non-negotiable element of a liberal society. 
And they underestimate the personal affront Abbott took to the prosecution of Bolt. 
It will then be wholly out of character if the Prime Minister squibs this fight or if his Attorney-General does not present for cabinet’s consideration a carefully formulated remedy. 
Barring a particularly recalcitrant Senate, 18C will be repealed in its current form. 
Three of the four words that were lazily cut and pasted into 18C from legislation outlawing sexual harassment — “offend, insult, humiliate” have to go. 
That is not to under-appreciate the slings and arrows of racism but simply to recognise that the law is a crude and ineffective shield against the hurting of feelings. 
“Intimidate”, or a word that conveys a similar meaning, is likely to stay. Indeed it should be strengthened to make it a more effective weapon against acts or threats of physical violence, which were the legislation’s original target. The “good faith” test in 18D must be removed. An opinion is an opinion, whether arrived at in bad faith or in good.

Well there it is, out from behind the paywall, and a clear call.

Let's see how the gut-laden Abbott and Brandis go about their duty. Will they follow the Caterist list of "musts" and "wills"?

Let's hope they do a better job than Caterists do when defending sugar and fat ...

Meanwhile, David Rowe paints a most beguiling picture of the gut laden fearless leader who will shortly have to sort out the matter of Arthur Sinodinos, yet another example of the bipartisan capacity for waywardness at work in NSW since the Rum rebellion.

Oh wait, Liberals rally around Arthur Sinodinos ...

Uh huh.

Now back to that slashing of red tape, and de-regulating this and that, so NSW can really get down and dirty.

And as always more Rowe here:


  1. Bolt's getting a hammering on his blog today about his tanty over the ABC apologising. Here's a sample -

    Is this day 3 of the saga where Bolt lost the respect of the left by being happy to dish it out, but being unable to take it?

    Time stop sooking about it Andrew and grow a spine. People who don’t like you are going to be nasty to you in life. Get over it.

    You [Bolt] got a personal apology on national television. Stop being churlish and grow up.

    So you [Bolt] want free speech but you don’t want free speech?

    Andrew, It’s been great reading yr blog but I can’t stand yr “wallowing” in self pity

    Oh the irony, a man who wrote a book titled “still not sorry”

    1. It seems, for the thin of skin, sillywhacker of spin, discretion being the better part of valour and all that, the bolter simply disallowed any comments here:


  2. Sky News desperate to discredit March in March. Chris Kenny attack flop on Tim Jones National March in March administrator even after desperate trolling


    1. 7 'news' Brisbane at 6:00PM on Sunday reported police had said a man was injured by running at a police car, ouch! ...or said by onlookers to have been run over by one, they added. So take your pick, I guess. Then again a man may have suffered a severely fractured foot when..


      And he happened to fall just so...


      Take your pick, I guess. Pick a street too while you're at it as that is not George St.

      You may have cared to note toward the end of a video taken from the pub balcony above the scene that the largish boss-cop in a white long-sleeved shirt, in consultation with other police, spends time closely inspecting the damage to the lower offside front corner of that Qld anti-free-association police vlad pursuit car..

    2. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BimXlFfCAAAoApr.jpg


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