Australian ABC Promises To Stay Free; Mocks Murdoch And Paywalls As 'Old Empire' Thinking

from the take-that,-rupert dept

One of the key points we’ve raised in the past about the futility of newspapers putting up paywalls is that doing so would only open up a huge opportunity for other, smarter journalism organizations to take their market share by remaining free. And, indeed, more and more organizations are starting to point out that’s exactly what they would do. Reader Jamie writes in to let us know about a speech by the managing director of ABC in Australia (not the Disney owned ABC in America), Mark Scott, taking on the “old media” thinking around such things as paywalls:

Scott’s most virulent words were saved for News Corporation (owner of The Australian) chairman Rupert Murdoch and CEO Europe and Asia, James Murdoch.

He called Rupert Murdoch’s recent call for content providers to charge online distributors for content as “a classic play of old empire, of empire in decline. Believing that because you once controlled the world you can continue to do so.”

“When you have been so powerful and dominant for so long, it is hard to believe that empire is slipping away,” he said.

Scott argued traditional media companies had been out-thought by technology companies in strategy.

And… oh yeah, if Murdoch goes paywall, Scott promises to do the opposite:

He reiterated the ABC would continue to provide free online news content and said the ABC must remain audience-focused

Not just that, but he seems to be recognizing that the way people interact with news has changed, and they want to be much more involved:

… he noted the only media organisations to survive will be those that: know and accept that all the rules have changed; are endlessly inquisitive about the new; empower their audiences to contribute, to create and share media….

Nice to see some news business execs who seem to recognize what’s happening.

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Companies: abc, news corp

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Comments on “Australian ABC Promises To Stay Free; Mocks Murdoch And Paywalls As 'Old Empire' Thinking”

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Aussie Student says:

Yes but...

The one thing you fail to mention here is that the ABC in Australia is funded, although I’m sure not totally, by the government. I believe that the government is in fact REQUIRED to maintain the ABC, who despite their funding source do manage to report quite objectively about the government, which I’m sure has prompted more then one minister to question the existance of the ABC. So while it’s all well and good for the managing director to say “we’ll continue to be free” thats alot easier when there are laws in place to ensure you are getting paid.

Lutomes (profile) says:

Re: Yes but...

Also expanding my above post:

“So while it’s all well and good for the managing director to say “we’ll continue to be free” thats alot easier when there are laws in place to ensure you are getting paid.”

The point of this argument is that, as long as somebody reports the news for free (at least from the consumers point of view) then how can Murdoch charge a fee.

It doesn’t just apply to ABC but to any one of thousands of news sites worldwide that will still happily report free news to the public.

Jermaine Maine (user link) says:

Fox is amazingly shocking. You see, as any loyal Fox viewer does, I watch the network with the TV balanced on the side of the tub. After I awaken from my coma, I can tell you for sure that Fox makes a lot of sense.

But the fantasy world of Glenn Beck though is incredible, and it will be just as shocking for Rupert as it was for me, if he saw Glenn on TV. After all, last I saw, Australia speaks English, so I’m guessing there’s no language barrier, and Glenn’s usage of the English language with his liberally applied usage of tears and spittle, so people hard of hearing 5 day old sandwich like Rupert, you don’t even need to hear him speak.

Glenn’s calling out vague enemies have failed him is amazingly similar to that other rodeo clown, Stephen Colbert.

But as far as the ABC is concerned, you could kinda tell that after Rudd made it into office, that they needed to find something to kick Chris Hanson’s spot-on show off the air.

Brian Hayes (user link) says:

one stands out

As if sibling to our stalwart ally Michael Masnick, what struck me is Mark Scott’s good ol’ obstinance. I can’t see a future without it.

We should pitch in somehow to pencil our own spreadsheets to discover where to put our bits of money that steers to integrity media. Maybe it’s not so much about capturing revenue from mass readership as it is pointing support to true media. I’d be afraid if new media became Murdoch all over again.

Wull, as if I know… but I hope we’ll be invigorated users too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Grammar Nazi Alert

Normally yes, but it’s fine as a way to distinguish it from the US TV station that Mike’s American readers would most likely think of first if he had just written “ABC” in the headline. ‘Australian ABC’ is still a lot shorter than expanding the acronym completely.

He might have got a few more “WTF?” reactions by leaving the qualifier out, but including the country of origin is better editorial style (a headline writer favouring accuracy over sensationalism, what is the world coming to?.

Anthony (profile) says:

ABC News

To the other comments, whilst the ABC is 100% Government owned, they are an independant company. They can charge for content if they wish to do so (although like any company if the CEO & board makes a decision that the owner doesn’t like then the CEO & Board might not be around much longer). The only laws affecting the station are the advertising rules they need to abide by.

ABC News is the only reputable TV news out there in Australia. The commercial TV networks are mainly intested in tabloid trash and put stories of a celebrity having a wardrobe malfunction as the top story. ABC News are in fact one of the few reputable news companies in Australia. News Ltd papers are regared as a laughing stock(much like Fox News). Fairfax papers are much better than News Ltd, but still have a little too much emphasis on garbage.

Seumas Hyslop (profile) says:

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a government owned, and largely government funded corporation that is arms length from the Australian Federal government. But that’s not the real issue of the story.

The reason that Mark Scott is doing this is as a sort of a pre-emptive strike. Murdoch is finding it increasingly difficult to monetarise news in the age of the internet and citizen journalism, and blogging opinion sites. He wants to go the way of charging for access to news. However, if you have reputable, government funded news organisations that produce quality news from their own networks of reporters (like the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) don’t need to turn a profit in this space, then Murdoch is finding it increasingly difficult to hold the position that he does. The government funded free online news sources are what’s going to be the downfall of his plan, and so he’ll be launching assaults on them in time.

Mark Scott knows this, and his words amount to a “bring it on”.

Murdoch trying to monetarise news over the internet is bound to fail, and the trouble is, Murdoch knows it as well.

Nan M says:

Not the ABC and BBC, but Google is the money vampire

Back in steam radio days, you’ll find that Murdoch’s dad, Keith, played King Canute with public radio – crying the same tears about not being funded by taxes, even telling them to refrain from broadcasting a news bulletin when Murdoch’s evening editions were due out. Those days too, the radio was getting into trouble for doing what the net’s doing now – sourcing news from everywhere and getting it out before the newspapers could print. Murdoch caught up and bought radio stations.

There’s not an immutable standard for how news is paid for. It’s always been cross-subsidised by ads within commercial news concerns, and advertising is key – see my final remarks.
The Guardian began as a trust, other big papers in a similar way. Public broadcasters are travelling in a similar way and I don’t doubt that the pressure for advertising within content will see the ABC soon publishing advertising from third parties.
And that’s the big horror that Murdoch’s facing. And his other dinosaur mates. The BBC delivers online ads now. Google’s outmanoevred everybody and grabbed online ad delivery, so that the news companies are forced to negotiate on what they thought was always going to be their prime income, and theirs to manipulate. They were happy to have their page rankings, thus ad displays, rise with Google indexing, but now that advertisers are going over to the Google paradigm, and public broadcasters are delivering ads and are also getting high Google rankings, the Murdochs of this world are losing their ad revenue quite fast and are reacting to Google as if they can tie it up too.
So this bashing of the abc and the bbc is very much because they’ve nowhere else to turn.
After all, it’s not as if Murdochs actually pay for quality journalism any more.
The sad attempt to dickwave at the abc is small bikkies compared to the horror that Murdoch faces trying to sue Google back into its box.

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