(Source: The Australian via Andy Sennitt)
[…]In a statement yesterday rebutting opposition claims that the ABC’s decision was somehow linked to government funding cuts, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said the ABC’s decision, announced unexpectedly in December, had since been “confirmed”.
“While the ABC has confirmed its decision I think the public broadcaster has learnt some valuable lessons about community consultation and engagement in regional and remote areas,” Mr Fifield said. “This is entirely a call by the ABC who have the legislated operational independence to make these decisions.”
Mr Shorten told The Australian the ABC’s rural listeners had been “shabbily” treated.
“The people of the Northern Territory have been treated shabbily throughout this process. The Prime Minister needs to start listening to locals and speaking up for them,” he said.
[…]In a statement issued yesterday, the ABC said it was “deeply committed to rural and regional Australia and the one-third of Australians who live outside the capital cities”.
[…]It promised to expand an existing “information awareness program” with the addition of easier access to information packs about alternative services, one-on-one telephone support and “how-to” videos to guide listeners to catch up on programs using podcasts.
“The National Broadband Network satellite services ‘Sky Muster’ will also assist those in remote Australia, by providing access to all ABC online and digital content,” the statement said.
“The ABC will also supply (donate) a VAST satellite system unit to all Royal Flying Doctor Service bases and 4WD Radio club bases in the affected region, allowing them to rebroadcast emergency or warning messages as required.”
Those things are unlikely to placate pastoralists, who usually live and work far from 4WD clubs and cannot realistically mount large VAST (viewer access satellite television) systems on their vehicles. Cattle station owners and staff continue to complain bitterly about the poor quality of NBN satellite services, where one connection typically offering less than 100GB of downloads per month may be shared among a dozen or more people for both personal and business purposes. In practice, they say, this makes all ABC digital content inaccessible in the bush.[…]