Oh, Mr. Beecher what have you done?
There once were lots of things to read, but soon there will be none,
I'll have to buy a book, 'cause I can not buy The Star,
Oh, Mr. Beecher what a nutty man you are!
CRIKEY publisher Eric Beecher has attacked the ABC's for branching into online commentary in competition with websites such as his own.
The comments coincide with debates in countries such as Britain and Germany, as well as other parts of the European Union, about whether the activity of publicly funded broadcasters in channels such as the internet should be limited so as not to "unnecessarily damage" commercial competitors.
And it follows pressure on the traditional audiences and advertising revenues of commercial media operators in most mature media markets following the rise of online competitors.
"As a huge supporter of the ABC, I have been somewhat shocked at (the ABC's) decision to create a website (The Drum) that sits so blatantly in the territory of sites like Crikey and The Punch," Mr Beecher said.
"Operating in the commercial space, we expect vigorous competition from other commercial publishers. But to see the ABC tanks roll up on our lawn was bewildering."
I have two words for Mr Beecher, Crikey, The Punch and indeed The Australian in which this article was published.
GROW UP... You're not nine years old. For goodness sake, take a concrete pill and harden up. (Add appropriate profanities for emphasis).
Media in Australia has already disappeared up it's own fundamental orephus quite some time ago. There are very few if any at all, independant voices in print media in this country.
Of the major circulating newspapers in all capital cities, there are really only two major media groups and they are Fairfax and News Ltd. In suburban media they might hide under the banners of Rural Press Ltd or the Cumberland Newspaper Group etc, but scrape away the shell companies and you are still left with Fairfax and News Ltd.
This means that if you are looking for independant journalism and comment, you need to look online since the big fish have already eaten all of the little ones. To be fair Crikey is indpendant but The Punch sits squarely in the News Ltd. basket.
Both Fairfax and News Ltd are rightist and broadly conservative news organisations. News Ltd even goes so far as openly backing political parties in various countries to shift public opinion if it suits its own ends. It is so bad in the United States that Fox News Channel is virtually devoid of anything other than conservative lackies yelling at so called "liberals" who are basically set up as straw men; I really hope that we never see the likes of that in Australia because its just so mind numbingly puerile.
There are five newspapers which hold 95% of the market in Sydney. The Sydney Morning Herald (which is conservative and rightist), The Financial Review (which is conservative and rightist), The Australian (which is conservative and rightist), The Daily Telegraph (which is popularist and rightist), and the free newspaper at city railway stations MX which as far as I can tell is the place where News Ltd. puts all its pictures of scantily clad women that it couldn't put in The Daily Telegraph. I don't really know if it's conservative and rightist having never bothered to pick up more than two copies of the insipid thing (it isn't even worth giving away), but I imagine that it probably is.
In the light of a broadly conservative and rightist media market, is it little wonder that Beecher should make comments such as these:
"It is full of personal opinions, mainly from the Left and often wacky, which is something that sits uncomfortably with the notion of a rigorously independent publicly funded national broadcaster.
"In doing this, it unnecessarily but almost provocatively reinforces the fairly widespread perceptions of where the ABC and its journalists sit in the political spectrum.
How about we flip this back onto both Beecher and The Australian who published this article?
In doing this, it unnecessarily but almost provocatively reinforces the fairly widespread perceptions of where both Crikey, Fairfax and News Ltd's journalists sit in the political spectrum.If you can find a discrepancy, then I'd like to hear about it.
I would just like to see what they'd all think of Paris' media. Le Monde is left of centre, Le Figaro says that it is a centre-right newspaper but works out to be far further to the right than that, France Soir is a populist and centrist paper, La Croix tries to be neither left or right but is blatantly Roman Catholic, Le Manifeste is openly communist, La Tribune is staunchly capitalist... and that's just in Paris, that doesn't say anything about the rest of France, whose newspapers are a kaliedoscope of political flavours and colours.
Parisian media benefits from having lots of different sorts of voices being published. Paris itself is a far more vibrant and alive city, partly because the culture of which the media is a part, allows more experimentation and a greater flow of ideas to be exchanged.
Sydney (and by extension Australia) is a cultural vaccuum in which there are only a few select and very loud voices, and those voices happen to be for a very large part, boorish, pathetic and greedy.
"I can now fully understand why the BBC has limited its online activities, especially in the commentary arena," he said of Britain's state-owned broadcaster pulling back on its domestic online footprint.
In August, the BBC promised to "cut its footprint on the web" and "exit some editorial areas entirely" as the Conservative government flagged measures to protect private enterprise from the dominance of the BBC.
I can also under understand why the BBC has limited its online activities. A new Conservative government was elected with backing from the same media interests who are complaining about the BBC. Those same media interests also happen to be broadly the same interests who are whinging about our ABC.
(Actually it was both Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch who went on the attack of the BBC)
News Ltd even went so far as to establish a pay wall around its news websites because of dwindling revenues. Of course this creates a conundrum. If I can not access something because it sits behind a pay wall (and believe me, the sort of crap which sits behind certainly isn't worrth paying a subscription fee for), then what right do they have to complain if I go somewhere else?
Is this a free speech issue? If people/companies have the rights to free speech, then surely as a consumer I have the right to select where I get that free speech from. If Crikey, Fairfax and News Ltd don't wish to put forward a leftist viewpoint and I want to consume it, then surely I have the right to find someone who will.
If the national broadcaster is acting as a marketplace for "personal opinions, mainly from the Left and often wacky" then at very least those personal, Left and wacky opinions have a home and place to go to, because if Crikey, Fairfax and News Ltd don't give voice to them, then they go unheard.
Basically Eric Beecher, News Ltd and Fairfax have seen new markets open up and want to exclude the public broadcasters whereever possible from impinging on their precious profits. Really that is the only quibble that they have. Since as economist Adam Smith said that "everyone is motivated by his or her own self-interest" then what other possible issue could they be crying foul about?
Someone needs to give Eric Beecher, News Ltd and Fairfax a swift kick up the date to disodge their heads which have been firmly jammed up there for so long. Give Aunty and her followers the right to bang a Drum, because when it comes down to it, unless there's a profit in it Beecher and his whinging mates aint interested.