Letter to the Editor, The Australian

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The following lettter to the editor was sent to The Australian yesterday 9 January. -------------------------------------------------

Graham Davis wrote (Australian 9 January) that the ABC should be commercialised because it is too bureaucratic and because, unlike the BBC, Australia does not have the population base to fund it any other way.

It is disappointing that a broadcaster with his experience can base his argument on such false assumptions.

First, the suggestion that the ABC's 'bureaucracy' leads to inefficiency is just a myth. As Professor Glenn Withers (Australian Financial Review, 22/3/2000) has demonstrated, the ABC is far more efficient than any of the commercial broadcasters in Australia, and far more efficient than the BBC. ABC TV (per broadcast hour) costs 36% of the average commercial TV station. ABC radio runs for 40% of the cost of commercial radio. British citizens pay 33 cents per capita per day for the BBC, Canadians pay 14 cents for the CBC and Australians pay 10 cents for the ABC. This has nothing whatever to do with our population base. If the ABC were funded on the same per capita basis as the BBC or the CBC it would be very healthy.

Second, creating more commercial stations by putting advertising on the ABC won't increase the size of total advertising expenditure. Other things being equal, it would just spread the same advertising dollars more widely, tending to give us more commercial channels but less real choice.

Australia is fortunate in having three distinct broadcasting sectors - public, commercial and community. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, and we benefit from this diversity. There is nothing to be gained by destroying the ABC's distinctiveness.

Darce Cassidy

-- Anonymous, January 09, 2001

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