... STEPHEN CONROY: Well, look, I think a comparison between the ABC and the BBC is frankly a nonsense. The BBC has got an enormous resource base. It's been growing for many, many years.
The ABC has been starved of funds through the entire 11 and a half years. Not just starved, it had its funding substantially slashed. And what we've seen for the first time in 12 years is the single largest increase in funding to the ABC since it became incorporated.
We make no apologies for that. We believe after 11.5 years of Howard Government's attacks on the ABC, that it was important to give a big boosts, even though we were in the middle of a global financial crisis.
So I reject the comparisons with the BBC, but what you're seeing is that the ABC is at the cutting edge of the digital transformation that's taking place in the country - fabulous applications like iView; the regional hub broadband program. These are exciting innovations that are keeping pace with where technology is taking us. If other media companies haven't been able to keep pace as well, that's for them to deal with. It's not to say, "Stop..." ...
For all this new technology and proposed national news network, the quality of ABC's reporting of local issues and news coverage has noticeably deteriorated over the past couple of years.
For example, with a few rare exceptions, the ABC's Coast FM spends the majority of airtime reporting and discussing stories which have appeared in the Murdoch press, giving publicity to commercial endeavours (eg yesterday Scott Mayman interviewed James Valentine about his new Foxtel show), unquestioningly repeating talking points and engaging in a general dumbing down and avoidance of environmental and social equity issues, and treating its listeners as if they only have one brain cell and are a bunch of Rona Joyners.
Yes, the surf and traffic reports are very helpful, but despite some good stories, they could do better. In fact the best segment this year so far was Cam Young's interview with an expert who said botox injections not only freeze facial muscles, but can also stifle emotions.
Why aren't ABC Coast FM doing a local Council round up every week? Or interviewing more local politicians of ALL stripes? Or conducting a round up of the Law Courts and Police matters?
2010 is an election year.
Ask your federal candidates what they will do to ensure that ABC local maintains and enhances its coverage of local issues.