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Thursday, 09 July 2020 07:48

ABC man underlines demand for digital firms' money 'for public services'

By
David Anderson addressing the National Press Club on Wednesday. David Anderson addressing the National Press Club on Wednesday. Courtesy ABC

Australian Broadcasting Corporation managing director David Anderson has reiterated the organisation's changed stance towards Google and Facebook, telling the National Press Club during an address that it would be pushing for payment from these digital entities in the event that they are persuaded to part with cash.

Responding to a query from Fergus Hunter, a journalist from Nine Entertainment's The Age, Anderson said it was totally appropriate that the broadcaster receive part of what was paid by digital platforms under the mandatory code that is under draft by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

This revenue would also be ploughed into community services, he said, adding that while other commercial publishers were withdrawing from the regions, the ABC was trying to cover them better and this money would be used towards that purpose.

As iTWire reported, back in May 2018, when submissions were being made to the ACCC's inquiry into digital platforms, the ABC projected itself as an organisation that could continue to function as it has in the past despite the level of digital disruption.

This was in sharp contrast to the submission made by News Corporation which did not mince its words in blaming Google, Facebook and Apple, for the difficulties faced by media organisations.

The new ABC stance was contained in a submission to the ACCC's mandatory code, wherein the broadcaster said it wanted direct payments from both Google and Facebook for using its content. iTWire reported about this on 22 June.

There were very few questions from the floor after Anderson finished his spiel which mostly dealt with topics well-traversed in recent days: the ABC's budget cuts and why, in Anderson's view, they are unjustified.

Most of the questioning was done by moderator Sabra Lane, the host of the ABC's AM program and president of the club, making it something of a PR exercise for Anderson, rather than a vigorous back-and-forth as is often witnessed during these addresses.

News Corporation journalists were conspicuous by their absence from the list of questioners, they are the most hostile towards the ABC on their public platforms.

Whether the lobbying done by Anderson will be of any use is doubtful seeing as he is up against a government that is intent on cutting expenditure on public services and ploughing it back into a fund which it can spend on itself.

And, it is easy to justify such behaviour, by using phrases like "the new normal" and other weasel words like "unprecedented circustances".


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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