Conformity at the ABC
With the announcement of Jonathan Shier as the new managing director of the ABC, ABC staff have been active in the media arguing for three propositions: that Shier needs to prove himself effective at getting increased funding for the ABC; that the culture of the ABC must preserved; and that private sector involvement with the ABC (for example, through advertising) should not be increased and should ideally be decreased.
The tension between increased funding and no advertising is obvious. Equally obvious is the preferred solution: more taxpayer funding. This would certainly not do anything to upset the current culture in the ABC.
What seems less obvious to the ABC staff offering the public the benefit of their wisdom is that there is a very real tension between the current culture of the ABC and increased funding.
First, since that culture is very much seen as hostile to the Coalition, why would any Coalition government increase funding to the ABC?
More importantly, if that culture does not change, funding to the ABC ought not be increased.
The ABC is funded by all Australians. It therefore has an obligation to reflect the intellectual and opinion diversity of the Australian nation. This it clearly fails to do---there is not a single conservative, libertarian or even classical liberal voice on the ABC.
If the ABC only reflects a narrow range of opinion---as it does---it has no right to dip further into the public purse.
Not only does it not reflect the country's diversity of opinion, significant ABC resources are put in to enforcing ideological conformity.
A presenter deemed 'suspect' will find what they can say is policed, with battles over which phrases and what ideas will be deemed acceptable to presented to the tender ears of the public. Too many such battles, and they will be eased out. Aunty has a long history of this---for example, members of the PLO were never to be called 'terrorists' while West Bank settlers were 'Jewish extremists'.
This is a straightforward waste of public funds and abuse of position which alienates potential supporters of the ABC. Diversity is, in fact, efficient: conformity is costly.
The problem is, opinions have become markers of status, of being a 'good' person: they therefore become moral assets to be defended. This encourages conformity and intellectual sterility since genuine debate makes the opinions contestable---just another opinion---and thus not indicators of status.
The ideological conformity in the ABC is the most obvious sign of staff capture, with public funds being used to polish and defend the moral vanity of staff.
But if the ABC cannot be bothered to reflect the intellectual diversity of Australia, why should any government---but particularly a Coalition one---be bothered to increase its funding?