(Source: The Interpreter via Michael Taniwha)
Restoring Australia’s Pacific media presence
by Kevin McQuillan
The departure of ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie just two-and-a-half years into her five-year term reflects the board’s decision to seek “fresh leadership”, according to Chairman Justin Milne. Announcing Guthrie’s sacking today, Milne said “the board’s foremost consideration was the long-term interests of our own people and the millions of Australians who engage with ABC content every week”.
What Milne didn’t talk about was the millions of listeners, viewers and online visitors to the ABC who have been lost since the federal government and the ABC itself made cuts to its international output. The appointment of a new Managing Director opens up the opportunity for Guthrie’s replacement to re-engage the ABC with its international audience, particularly in the Pacific.
As respected former international broadcasting executives Ian MacIntosh and Bruce Dover pointed out last month on The Interpreter: “Australia’s international voice, once strong, influential and broadcast across much of the Asia Pacific, has become little more than a croak into the ether.”
The demise of a strong Australian media voice throughout the Pacific has seen Radio NZ Pacific (formerly Radio NZ International) become the dominant international media outlet in the south-west Pacific, Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia. Lurking in the background is Radio China International, which has taken many of the ABC’s shortwave frequencies, and is reportedly spending billions in foreign language programming to boost its presence.[…]