Tim Blair


New Criterion



Thursday, May 29, 2003
THE LATEST in the battle to professionalise Auntie.

The Media Report interviews both Biffer Balding and Minister Alston this morning, but you'll have to wait for a transcript.

Gerard Tooth gives Biff a good hearing, but when Alston comes on has an attack of the Kerries, interrupting every reply mid-sentence.
This makes it clear that Gerard has teeth and is no Government patsy, but it is hard to make much else out of a programme in which two people are speaking at the same time.

Biffer is never pressed on the issue of his digital policy. If the new channels for adolescents and kids were of such high priority that they deserved the "one-off" funds the ABC found for them, and which could have been used to enhance quality broadcasting in other areas, or even returned to the tax-payer, why has Biff told his Board to cut them immediately, before the review of programming generally. He assures us their support was "small but strong", which might describe an audience comprising the channels' staff and immediate families.

Or was Biff trying to play clever, thinking if he helped the Government out of its digital policy hole the money was sure to follow. Never a goer, that one. Time to re-read the Machiavelli.