South Africa: Australian Broadcasting Corporation MD defends public broadcasting at CBA conference


The Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Mark Scott, on 20 April 2010 in Johannesburg, took a swipe at opponents of public broadcasters and emphasized the role of public broadcasters in relations to commercial and pay-TV broadcasters in serving the needs of all citizens.

According to a report in Business Day on 21 April 2010, Scott said at the Commonwealth Broadcast Association conference in Johannesburg on 20 April 2010, that independent public broadcasters still had a big role to play in the digital age and a responsibility to deliver programmes the public wanted, but which the market struggled to deliver. Broadcasters such as the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), and the ABC has been the subject of debate about their role, their funding model and whether they should provide services already being provided by commercial broadcasters.

Scott was responding in particular to criticism by James Murdoch, heir apparent to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation empire, that the existence of a government-funded broadcaster – in this case the BBC – was “a threat to pluralism” and was throttling the market. Scott argued that commercial broadcasters “walk away if a product does not deliver profits” because they have no “overarching commitment to journalism as a public good”, or holding “government and private institutions accountable”.

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