Richard Broinowski writes:
I endorse strongly Annmaree O’Keefe’s five criteria for a credible Australian overseas television service – credibility, financial security, legislative protection, strategic direction and longevity. When I was with the ABC in the early 1990s, I helped prepare program content for the nascent ABC overseas television service that would complement Radio Australia.
We wanted enlightened Australian-made programs that would resonate with audiences in the South East Asian area in the reception area of the Palappa satellite: good music (classical, jazz and pop) but with Australian orchestras, artists and composers; current affairs showing the growing linkages with our neighbours; sports that were Asian-friendly, like golf, badminton, tennis, soccer, dragon boat races on the Yarra. But the ABC ran out of money and a commercial network took over. When this occurred, if you wanted to watch Australian Television from one's hotel room in Bangkok or Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur, you received an embarrassing mix of warmed over American sitcoms and talk shows and lots of Rugby League.
These may have driven commercial television in Australia (and the US), but hardly projected an enlightened image of Australia. As an example of ‘soft diplomacy’ the programs stank. We had no credibility, no program direction, certainly no financial security, and therefore, no longevity.
Only the ABC can provide the direction and steadiness we should have, and Malcolm Turnbull, so enlighted in other respects, should be ashamed of suggesting that Aunty's tenure might not be assured. So should all the Tories who want to savage Aunty's overall budget when/if they come to power. Turnbull, at least, should know better.