Voice of Australia shouts to stay on air
Monday 10 February 1997
The overseas service of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is facing closure after 58 years of beaming news, music and current affairs programmes on crackly shortwave frequencies to some of the most remote communities on earth. The problem is money, a cost-cutting government pruning its commitment to public broadcasting, and the march of new technology.
Radio Australia went on the air in 1939, seven years after its mother organisation, the then Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), started broadcasting. Both institutions were modelled on the BBC and the BBC World Service. Radio Australia broadcasts in seven languages, besides English, across a region stretching from China and Indonesia to Tonga and French Polynesia. Its revenue comes from the ABC's total budget of A$500m (pounds 250m), a yearly grant voted by parliament.
Enter the conservative Liberal-National coalition, led by John Howard, which set about hacking public spending after winning last year's general election. The ABC was among its first targets. The government set up an inquiry into the ABC led by Bob Mansfield, a business manager.
When he reported last month, Mr Mansfield unexpectedly endorsed the ABC's performance in its five domestic radio networks and its national television network. The sting was his recommendation that Radio Australia be closed.
Richard Alston, the federal minister for communications, has endorsed Mr Mansfield's recommendation, describing Radio Australia as an "expendable service".
Critics in Australia say the impending closure makes a mockery of Canberra's bid to extend Australia's trade and diplomatic influence in the region. Critics from overseas say that Radio Australia is a beacon of uncensored information in countries such as Indonesia, where news is subject to government controls.
The furore has produced a stalemate. The besieged ABC board is divided over Radio Australia; it declined to endorse its closure at its latest meeting. Radio Australia's supporters say the regional goodwill that would flow from keeping it on the air would be worth more to Canberra than the saving on its budget, at A$13.5m (pounds 6m) a drop in the ABC's ocean.
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 5 Denmark bans kosher and halal slaughter as minister says ‘animal rights come before religion’
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Israel-Gaza conflict: The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The missiles were tragically real
Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
Syria conflict: Syrian and Turkish Kurds unite to battle Isis threat - ‘We shoot them like sheep, but next day double the number return’
Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified ...
£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently for ...
£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienc...
£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...