“Australia’s international broadcasting service is a wasting and wasted asset,” according to a strategy paper published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute [ASPI].
As Radio Australia heads towards its 80th anniversary in 2019 and Australia’s international TV services approaches a quarter of century of operations, the Australian government is consulting on the country’s soft power in the Asia-Pacific region.
The paper from ASPI, authored by Graeme Dobell, Geoff Heriot and Jemima Garrett, laments the lack of a strong voice from Australia in a region where other powers are exerting considerable influence but where news and current affairs is in short supply. The authors lament the way that the ABC has been used as a political football with the Corporation’s international services often suffering as a result.
The report calls for the establishment of the Australian International Broadcasting Corporation [AIBC], a ring-fenced organisation that doesn’t compete with ABC domestic services for funding. It claims that current legislation allows for the establishment of a subsidiary organisation by the ABC exists, making this new international corporation relatively easy to set up. It says that the AIBC should have its own chair and board and separate budget. Alongside the deputy chair and the managing director of the ABC, the head of the Special Broadcasting Corporation [sic] should also sit on the board.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this proposal is received by the Australian government, and what other responses are submitted to the consultation.