Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In which Eric helps keep the dream alive ... or is it a nightmare?

(Above: just to put the pond in a good mood, and more Wilcox here, if you want some gay images, you've probably already Gawkered The Gayest Images from Michaelangelo's Most Famous Painting, but never mind, the pond is trying to explain the intertubes to Eric Beecher).

The last thing the pond wants to contemplate, or hear,  right at the moment, are the likes of Malcolm Fraser, Tony Abbott, John Howard, Greg Sheridan, Andrew Bolt, Gerard Henderson, or Malcolm Turnbull talking about the vision thing while displaying the vision of a gnat, or Bill Shorten simply talking ... that last one is just too depressing ...

And that way also lies madness, and so instead it's off to Crikey, and its joining forces with the Murdochian reptiles.

Naturally the reptiles were delighted to have the company:

Eric Beecher has been down this path before, but his recent effort, simply in terms of logical thinking, was pathetic, and the supplementary and complementary woeful forelock tugging supplied by Bernard Keane did the usually rational Keane a great disservice.

It was like Crikey had obtained its own special brand of kool aid, and Keane had swallowed a great gulp.

How Beecher imagines that attacking the ABC is going to fix the dismal position of Crikey in the marketplace boggles the imagination.

The financial pain must be getting deep.

The trouble is, Crikey is no longer at the centre of any conversation. Nor is it the home to any notable set of 'exclusives' to attract attention.

This can't be blamed on the ABC.

You don't find New Matilda whining and moping about the ABC, though it has lurched along precariously from fiscal crisis to crisis, not having funding from Gina Rinehart or a coal baron conveniently to hand.

It hasn't been easy for the indie rag - top of the digital page was a story about the sentencing of Freya Newman, and it looks like its about to have the depths of its pockets tested, with the mainstream media like the Graudian watching on as Barry Spurr takes legal action to compel New Matilda to reveal source of emails. 

Or, if you like to upset Eric Beecher, at the ABC in Professor Barry Spurr mounts legal fight over publication of racist emails in New Matilda.

But they've just got on with the business of being an alternative independent source of news and opinion and doing their best to attract subscribers.

Meanwhile, Beecher has been moaning since the twelfth of never - and that's a long long time - about the ABC being responsible for dudding his business.

You can head back to October 2010 and cop Beecher in mUmBRELLA moaning about the competition in Crikey's Eric Beecher: ABC should not have launched The Drum.

And that's just one of dozens of examples that litter the full to overflowing intertubes.

It seems, if you pay a nanosecond's attention to Eric, the ABC shouldn't be much involved in the digital space or in experimentation in its attempts to engage with its customers, and somehow, by the ABC abstaining from such naughtiness, suddenly everyone will flock to Beecher's baby.

Now in the usual way of 'print the controversy', Crikey managed to get a little more out of the controversy - keeping the debate alive - by publishing David Salter mounting a defence of the ABC with The ABC debate: why Beecher and Crikey fear the ABC (inside the paywall).

The trouble was, all Salter could do was point to the naked self-interest that had sparked what he rightly called a puffed up rhetorical pose:

...Every one of the first six dot-point questions Beecher proposes in his quest for an answer to the ABC’s existence turns in some way on the assumption that the national broadcaster is a threat to existing commercial media, or should at least be prevented from becoming a threat. 
 He summarises his position thus: “Should the ABC use its formidable public resources to disrupt or compete with opportunities available to commercial media?” And in case you missed what this might mean for Beecher’s own Crikey-based online business, he asks: “Should the ABC have carte blanche to create whatever digital content it likes, even if similar or identical content is already being produced by commercial or other content creators?” 
 We get your point, but it’s nonsense. For decades, media commentators and editorialists have been seduced by the specious argument that taxpayers should not have to fund ABC services that, they assert, commercial rivals could deliver just as well, or more cheaply. Yet none of those pundits go on to nominate specific examples. If commercial outlets could produce the same programming or internet content as the ABC at the same level of quality but for less money and for larger audiences, then they would already be doing it. 
Why don’t they? Because most of that content isn’t populist. It requires the investment of experienced staff and high production values, and will rarely attract enough viewers, listeners or internet eyeballs to be commercially viable. 
What really sticks in the craw of Beecher and his ilk is that while traditional media markets have contracted, the ABC has managed to hold and even expand its audience. Aunty’s consumers clearly don’t need the “legislative direction from government” Keane thinks necessary to articulate the public broadcaster’s role. They’ve already voted with their remotes and browsers.

Now the pond isn't a big user of the ABC, and there are any number of moments - provided by the likes of Emma Alberici and Chris Uhlmann - when the pond is likely to run shrieking from the room.

But on the other hand, the pond can't imagine, in a month of pink fits, Eric Beecher funding RN and an FM music service, the two main points of contact the pond has with the ABC - yes, the pond usually goes elsewhere for its online content, because there's a mighty wide world online, and no thanks to Malcolm Turnbull's vision thing.

So here's the sort of company Beecher finds himself keeping with his ABC bashing:

By golly Eric couldn't get yourself much lower in the gutter, could you?

Well actually you could, as you yourself ironically noted by running this cover:

Now is there an irony in the Bolter, working for the monopolistic Murdochians, who control much of the media wasteland in Australia, berating the ABC for crowding out other voices, so that the Murdochians can complete their monopoly, maintain Foxtel, degut the NBN, and run their newspapers into the ground with a host of shrill right wing ratbag zealots and commentators?

You betcha, the irony is so thick on the ground, it glitters like iron pyrite ... or as it was known in Tamworth, fool's gold, but as always, the Bolter is an irony free, self-aware free zone ...

Well the pond has been getting begging letters from "the Crikey crew" for months now, offering trinkets and trivia and publications the pond doesn't want, to rejoin the subscription list.

But this latest effort, right when the ABC is in its hour of need, is the last straw, especially when - in terms of future proofing - any budget cuts shouldn't come at the expense of serving the ABC's diverse programming  via the digital platform.

That's the way of the future, even allowing for big Mal's attempts to service the demands of the Murdochians by degutting broadband.

The notion that the ABC should restrict itself to radio and to television, and not play in the same space as Crikey is both pathetic and absurd.

Below: an artist's impressions of Eric Beecher's ABC:

(more artistic impressions here)

And so the pond bids farewell to Eric Beecher and his crew.

If the pond wants the thoughts of Rupert, it's much easier to read the output of his minions.

Why this very day the pond could be reading the special insights of that person empowered to recommend ABC board positions:

Or maybe not. There has to a limit to the amount of hagiographic excess and rabid cheer-leading absorbed in any one day.

Maybe instead the pond might head off and watch John Oliver doing the Supreme Court as LOLdogs,

And you can find your fake paws at the same location, and you can find Rachel Maddow having an early crack at the new meme at Salon, here.

Sorry Eric, sorry Murdochians, there's more to life on the full to overflowing intertubes than brooding about the hypocrisy of Eric, or the follies of the Murdochian commentariat as they join forces to feather their nests ...

As usual, that dissident treacherous all Blacks loving Moir had a cartoon just for Eric and Dame Slap and the Bolter, and as usual, there's more Moir here:


  1. They had Shanahan on the Drum last night. What a mean, small mouthed, humourless little man.
    He couldn't bring himself to say anything good about Gough Whitlam. Today's comments sections are awash with tributes to the great man, and rightly so. Comparisons with today's lot, not so good.

    The Murdoch black ban bolted down a little tighter now.

    Vale Gough Whitlam.

  2. Seems like the commercial media has a severe case of 'entitlement'.

    We need to strengthen the ABC to what it should be.


  3. Janet Albrechtsen is such a good judge of character.

    There is this wonderful interview she did with Michael Duffy back in 2008, about Sarah Palin. Albrechtsen revealed to Duffy that what the Left really hate and fear about Palin is that she is just “so ordinary”; “real and normal” were other words used to describe Palin.

    Albrechtsen advised Barack Obama that he should lay off criticising Sarah – she knew that all the evil came from the Kenyan - and that if he does join in the Left Liberal war on Sarah Palin, he and the Democrats will be the losers. Good call Janet.

    Janet is not only smrt and cute, she is so empathic and she thought that the Leftist media were just awful in the way they hounded Sarah and looked for any little thing she did to unfairly criticize. I am sure she would have been simply appalled if the Leftist media took pictures of Democrats standing in front of signs about ditching witches or “Soccer Mom’s” even.

    The best bit of the interview which was mercifully short, as Team Counterpoint thought that replaying the whole of a Palin speech – is speech the right word for things Sarah says? – was a good use of RN resources, comes at the end. Duffy asks Albrechtsen what was the best thing that happened this week and she said it was the enjoyment she felt watching the left get so frustrated.

    So Albrechtsen sees this behavior as ordinary, real and normal?

  4. Of course, DP, if you're a raving capitalist and rabid free marketeer, then the ABC has no reason to exist. How can government allow a taxpayer funded service to be the communications and media lifeline of regional Australia? Let someone like Rupert manage it, and you'd have services to rural and regional areas obliterated in no time.

  5. I'm just about to commit as a subscriber to NM. Crikey? Never; they don't do much to entice you, they're more like the OO with their ovine bleating pleadings to subscribe. And all the while their articles are almost all paywall-affected.

    My liking of Crikey went south when they ditched Pure Poison. Now that was a blog!

    Would you take my money Dot?

  6. Yes, it is sad the Eric should blame the ABC for his struggling model. I gave away subscribing to Crikey a year or so back, mainly in the belief that there was a certain sameness to it. Not that I don't support the drive of independent and online journals in such a tepid market that we have, with Murdoch controlling much of the print, while the other modest player Fairfax does better but is still ordinary.

    New Matilda is working in a similar bind, but has somehow managed to scoop everyone with several big stories. The Saturday has made a good start and there are others such as The Monthly. Except that I am living in impecunious retirement I probably should be supporting these, but until I can find a publisher for my stories, I'll probably lack the means.

    Why Eric should imagine that slamming the ABC or aligning with the Murdoch shills will assist the cause? He's got half a point, that it would help to define the purpose of the ABC. I'm looking at it from an entirely different angle to Eric and I see it as having admirable goals. Its programs on agriculture, science, gardening and things like Big Ideas do have an important place in our culture. And all would be unlikely to be picked up by commercial media.

    We can extend that to music, comedy, drama and children's programs. The ABC plays an important cultural role, simply because commercial media will always go for the cheapest option, which is to import. Maybe there can be different ways of managing it, such as SA Film Corporation used to develop cinema. I can't see the market doing it.

    It is in News and Current Affairs that I have my own issues with the ABC. Even here my concerns are likely different from Eric and the Reptiles. I don't know if there was ever a charter of what the ABC was to do, and I am taking a guess, based on my knowledge of the 50s, 60s and 70s - that time before Howard and his cronies starting to try to nobble it.

    It was clear then that the purpose was to provide an independent news-gathering and current affairs schedule. That is, independent of the print media and unlikely to be influenced by it. No doubt it was costly in having correspondents set up everywhere, plus links to foreign services. But it was important to public information in a free society.

    Currently, we don't have that. The ABC relies excessively on newspapers for its topics and news drivers. And here we have the problem with Murdoch controlling 70% of them and being devoted to propaganda in a way unknown outside of totalitarian countries. So we get the travesties of Gillard being branded a scheming, incompetent liar and Abbott a source of magical genius... and the current mess we have of not being governed but controlled.

    I'm willing to grant that Mark Scott may not be a propagandist, despite his Liberal Party connections. But stifling genuine reporting instead of investigating and trying to disguise it through 24/7 repetition may allow for him to expand but at the cost of informing us. My beef with The Drum is having IPA hacks instead of informed experts for commentary. Using retired and discredited Liberal Party figures does little for confidence even when half-hearted attempts are made for 'balance' by getting an ALP or Green rep along. Insiders seems to be just a talkfest among reporters, contributing nothing to what is really happening in governing our country.

    The Drum could be a useful concept if genuine expert information was used instead of talking points. Radio National still does some good work, but it is harder for most people to find.

    I have no problem with cross-platform innovation. As long as we can get some real news with it.

    1. GD, I think programs like The Drum and Q&A suffer at the hands of politicians in much the same way as would happen if you were to pitch two rabid supporters of opposing teams on a panel to discuss the weekly footy. It just gets nowhere.

  7. It costs the average household about $150 per year to fund the ABC.

    "Free-to-air" media is funded by advertising which is a cost levied on goods being sold.

    The cost of advertising per household is about $1200 per annum.

    So we are paying $1200 per year to people to tell us how bad it is to be wasting $150 for a demonstrably superior and more efficient product.

  8. ABC still does great drama - The Code being the latest case in point. Nothing remotely as edgy as this on the ad-TV stations which isn't imported. (Underbelly was gangster porn repeated ad nauseum.)

    The commercial news is re-cycled social media; the so called current affairs programmes are thinly disguised promos; the entertainment content is around 100% yank.

    Let 'em all go to hell and we'll rely on internet streaming.

  9. Crikey was nobbled by Big Media when they got too irritated by it a couple of years ago. They booted out Pure Poison, throttled Ben Sandilands, axed WH Chong and generally sold their soul to the devil. And now they continue with a Murdoch inspired 'Get the ABC!' campaign. This is the latest episode -

    I long ago dropped interest in Crikey. They are sell-outs. And Keane and Beecher are the moral equivalents to Brendan O'Neill.

  10. I note that Tongues has elevated himself above the constitution.

    "The immigration minister, Scott Morrison, has intervened to refuse refugee protection claims and has stripped refugees of any right to appeal against his decisions in an unprecedented new push to block permanent settlement."

    This involves no public evidence, allows no right of appeal, and blocks any investigation into his decisions, even though the asylum seekers in question have passed all security and immigration checks.

    "Morrison has employed a rarely used clause in the Migration Act that allows the minister to issue a “conclusive certificate” blocking permanent protection without explanation, and forbidding any review of the decision on grounds of national interest."

    Just goes to show where fundie Christians go where no Angel fears to tread.

    1. Sorry - "where Angels fear to tread." A Sting quote.


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