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Monday, 07 November 2011 22:51

Conroy terminates Aus TV tender

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Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has drawn a line under a tender process to select the media organisation to run the Australia Network - a ten-year, $230 million contract - terminating the tender on the advice of the Australian Government Solicitor.

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Senator Conroy said a series of damaging leaks of confidential material to the media about the Australia Network tender process meant it had been "compromised to such a degree that a fair and equitable outcome may no longer be able to be achieved."

"As a result, the Government has taken the decision that it is in the best interests of both tender parties, and the Government," Senator Conroy said.

The Australian Federal Police had been called in to investigate the leaks.

"This decision has not been taken lightly but the Government believes that the advice received about the tender process leaves no other option," Senator Conroy said.

"The Government is extremely disappointed that such leaks have occurred and that the process has been compromised."

As part of the decision, the Government has granted a six month extension to the contract of the ABC until August 2012 while the Government resolves the longer term contractual arrangements. The tender process had already been extended for one six month period.

The ABC has been competing for the ten-year contract with News Ltd's Sky News pay television service.

Shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for an investigation of the tender process by the Australian National Audit Office.

Greens Communications spokesman Senator Scott Ludlam said the tender should be abandoned entirely and that the ABC's Australia Network should be extended.

"The Australia Network service should not be tendered again - the idea that a commercial entity would represent Australian interests and culture to the region better than the national broadcaster was misguided from the beginning," Senator Ludlam said.

"The Australia Network should remain with the ABC and be properly resourced. As some commentators have noted, the best outcome may be the amalgamation of Radio Australia and the Australia Network into the nation's overseas broadcasting arm," he said.

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