It seems to be the wrong move to axe the international coverage by the ABC. Money spent on good will and good communications is better than on patrol boats and super jet fighters surely. Making friends of neighbours involves communication, not fear. The current programs go into the Pacific and Asia. How will this effect news to Fiji? This is the story I read this evening.
Cabinet has approved axing of ABC's Australia Network: report
May 8, 2014 - 5:53PM
The Abbott government is set to scrap the ABC’s Australia Network international broadcasting service in next Tuesday’s budget. Cabinet approved the decision in a meeting on Wednesday, according to a report in The West Australian. The ABC has a 10-year, $223 million contract to run the network, which broadcasts to 44 countries in the Asia Pacific.
The ABC, which is finalising new partnership deals with Chinese and Indonesian broadcasters, has been lobbying publicly and privately for the government to continue to fund the service.
The ABC is required under its charter to transmit news and other programs to overseas countries to encourage awareness of Australia and enable Australians living overseas to stay abreast of national affairs.
Although some ministers are understood to believe the Australia Network could be replaced by online streaming of ABC News 24, this would be difficult in practice.
Under content distribution deals, ABC news bulletins include international stories from broadcasters such as the BBC and al-Jazeera. In many cases, the ABC is only allowed to use this footage in Australia. This is why a “geo-block” currently applies to ABC News 24’s online stream.
“The cost of the ABC obtaining full international distribution rights for any non-ABC content would be prohibitive and not a good investment in the funds we're granted to provide a news service to Australia,” ABC head of continuous news Gaven Morris said in 2010. “In some cases, international rights are not available at any cost.”
The Commission of Audit recommended the network be scrapped in its report earlier this month because it is too expensive “given its limited outreach to a small audience”.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who has oversight of the network, has said there are more cost-effective ways, including social media, to promote Australia abroad.
But business leaders including Hugh Morgan, Maurice Newman and Harold Mitchell have called on the government to retain the service because it advances Australia’s interests in the region.
In an email to staff earlier this week, ABC board member and veteran journalist Matt Peacock said it would be a “tragedy” if the network was axed and that job losses at the public broadcaster would inevitably result.