Peter Manning: Despite her good intentions, Michelle Guthrie was never the right fit for the ABC

Sacked as ABC head … Michelle Guthrie, “wrong choice from the start”. Image: PMC

ANALYSIS: By Peter Manning

Michelle Guthrie has been badly treated – not by being sacked, but by being hired in the first place. As a former head of ABC TV News and Current Affairs, I met Guthrie several times at functions in the ABC, and once at a social dinner party.

We discussed the state of ABC News and other editorial matters. She was well aware she was on a steep learning curve.

Dubbed early in the gossip mill as Rupert Murdoch’s and Malcolm Turnbull’s candidate for the job, I found her intentions good and her background at Google a major plus for leading the ABC in a digital era.

READ MORE: Michelle Guthrie’s stint at ABC helm had a key weakness: she failed to back the journalists

If there were worries, they were two: her lack of political smarts in the complicated and potentially volcanic relationship with the federal government; and her lack of experience in journalism, radio or television production, and the myriad other forms of content creation that ABC employees specialise in.

Her first federal Budget saw a $20 million a year “Enhanced Newsgathering Programme” from the previous year cut by a third to $13.5m. I wrote in The Conversation in May 2016:

-Partners-

If she was Malcolm Turnbull’s preferred candidate…it hasn’t helped her in the Budget…Her failure to hold the line on ABC funding will not go down well.

Job cuts followed.

It is one of the top KPI’s for a managing director of the ABC: hold and build the budget.

‘Give her a go’
I think it’s true to say that most ABC staff hoped this was a minor blip and would be corrected in coming years. There was a determination to embrace the old Aussie “give her a go” mindset, and staff were willing to listen to what Guthrie proposed as her signature policies.

But what they heard in a series of staff meetings was nothing new: that the new digital era required changes in demographics, skills and programming; that the organisation needed to be downsized; that new executive reporting lines would be created and simplified; and that the ABC had to ignore its very young and very old rusted-on viewers and concentrate on the 15-30 and 30-50 year-olds, who had left it in droves.

They had heard all this from the previous managing director, Mark Scott, for many years. In fact, the drive to enter the digital world had begun under the leadership of Brian Johns in the early 1990s. He appointed me to head up a multimedia unit in 1994. The task: put the ABC on the internet.

Quickly, the ABC’s new home site – www.abc.net.au – became the top media site in Australia and remains one of the top sites today. But it was Scott who made digitisation his defining contribution.

For all the talk of “content”, it became clear that comparisons between Guthrie and Scott inside the ABC found her wanting. Scott, the former editorial director of Fairfax’s newspaper and magazine division, might have lacked radio and television skills, but he knew a good story when he heard one. He made a good fist of claiming the title of editor-in-chief.

Guthrie, a lawyer by trade, spoke about content and platforms, but was all at sea about how to bring these two concepts together. It was a major hole in her armoury. (Even in News Limited, many admire Rupert Murdoch’s intimate knowledge of the trade of journalism. It runs in the family. It used to be the same with the Packer empire at Channel Nine until Jamie Packer fell in love with casinos and gambling as sources of wealth. The Fairfax barons also enjoyed newspaper production.)

Very soon Guthrie lost the staff she was leading. In a time of constant change, morale fell and the honeymoon ended. The rolling series of federal Budget cuts under the Abbott and then Turnbull governments ensured series after series of expensive payouts to highly-skilled programme-makers who were supposedly there to produce the “content” for the new platforms Guthrie envisaged.

Plea for identities
Many meetings were called to save various sections of the ABC and keep their identities. I attended one, a group of former general managers of ABC Radio National appealing to chairman Justin Milne and Guthrie to not incorporate the station and its staff into various “content streams”, thereby ensuring the end of what was called (the old) “appointment radio”.

The meeting was run by Milne, politely listening to each person and then assuring them it would all be alright. Guthrie was left to comment at the end:

Changes will need to go through me. Trust me, I’m a fan of RN.

The changes proceeded apace.

The casualisation of the new working arrangements has now left many staff not just demoralised but angry. Working crews have left on big packages only to return as freelancers on insecure tenure.

The anger has manifested itself in the “Proud to be Public” campaign by the formerly dominant union at the ABC, the Community and Public Sector Union. This group is more militant than the old Friends of the ABC lobby group, which is full of Liberal voters who care passionately about cuts to the ABC.

And finally, the anger of staff is shown in another new group, Alumni Ltd. – former ABC staff willing to join the struggle to save the ABC from Liberals who want to destroy it.

Wrong timing
In my view, Guthrie came at the wrong moment to be the “change agent” for the ABC. Mark Scott had already been that figure, and had all the necessary qualities to connect with staff and carry them through the digital revolution.

Guthrie’s performances in Canberra (especially before Senate Estimates) were too amateur and insecure. Her own credibility as a content-maker was not up to scratch in a highly critical creative environment like the ABC.

Finally, her seeming inability to bring her senior managers and staff with her proved crucial – especially in an environment where a hostile government half-captured by the ideological right, not to mention News Limited, was snapping at her heels on a constant basis.

The choice of Guthrie was wrong from the start. It did no service to her, nor to the ABC. The then board did her no service in throwing her in the deep end of the ABC at a time of great change.

Dr Peter Manning is adjunct professor of journalism, University of Technology Sydney. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence.

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Colin Peacock: New era heralded in broadcasting – or more of the same?

Minister Claire Curran … “shameful and embarrassing” how public broadcasting spending in other countries dwarfs NZ. Image: Richard Tindiller/RNZ

ANALYSIS: By Colin Peacock of RNZ’s Mediawatch

The allocation of $15 million for public broadcasting will be split between RNZ, New Zealand on Air and a new fund targeting “under-served audiences”. It’s the biggest single boost for public broadcasting for a decade, but will it make a big difference?

“It’s the beginning of a new era,” said Broadcasting and Digital Media Minister Claire Curran, announcing the new funding arrangements.

She flourished a graph from a report showing how spending on public broadcasting in other countries dwarfs our own.

It was “shameful and embarrassing,” she said.

“This increase … is just the beginning.”

Labour went into the last election talking a good game too.

-Partners-

It pledged $38 million a year more for RNZ and public broadcasting funding agency New Zealand On Air to deliver “quality New Zealand programming and journalism modeled on the ABC in Australia”.

Multimedia platform
Curran said the bulk of the money would create a new multimedia platform called RNZ+ and a TV channel on Freeview was part of the plan.

But once in government, Labour earmarked only $15 million more for public media in the Budget in May. Plans for a TV channel were talked down and are now spoken of as merely “an aspiration” for the future.

The new money will now be split four ways.

RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson described the $4.5 million added to RNZ’s $35 million annual public funding as “a dose of steroids”.

“We’ll make you proud, Minister” said NZOA’s chair Dr Ruth Harley, welcoming a $4 million boost to its $100 million-a-year budget for local TV shows and digital content.

The minister said a further $6 million will go into a new “Innovation Fund” to create “more public media content for under-served audiences such as Māori and Pacific Peoples, children and regional New Zealand.”

Both RNZ and NZOA jointly suggested this idea, but suggested only $2 million for the new fund, leaving $8.5m for “stage one of the RNZ+ plan”.

Independent producers
The content will appear on RNZ platforms but it will be made by independent producers commissioned by NZ On Air, the minister said.

Other media companies had opposed the funding increase and TV and film production companies jointly called for $20 million extra for New Zealand on Air instead.

Last year, MediaWorks chief executive Michael Anderson claimed RNZ+ could wipe out his business and hired a lobbyist to talk the minister out of it. New Zealand on Air funding is a significance source of finance for some of its local programmes on TV channel Three.

He was happy with this week’s announcement.

“It targets the right communities and gives RNZ support and extra funding for NZ On Air makes sense,” he told Mediawatch.

The minister’s advisory group – after many weeks chewing over the issues – appear to have tried to keep RNZ, NZOA and independent programme-makers happy with a roughly even split of the fresh funds.

“Keeping our entities happy is not how I would describe it but I don’t see that as being a bad thing,” Curran told Mediawatch.

Better collaboration
“This is stage one. We are working on how to make better collaboration happen across the other public media such as Māori TV, Pacific media and state-owned TVNZ,” she said.

Clearly more money is welcome for organisations that have not had a substantial boost for years and it could go a long way. (Certainly further than the 200 hours of content local TV producers say they could generate with $20 million more funding).

The minister’s instance that there will be more money for media in future is also a comfort for them.

But in the end this is an incremental change which puts more money into the existing system – not a transformative one.

The remaining $500,000 of the new funding will be spent on researching how “Crown-funded media agencies can use their assets more efficiently.”

Perhaps it would be better if that had been done before the new funding arrangements were made. State-owned TVNZ for example has substantial assets – and big audiences – but no public mandate at all any more.

It has no role in the funding revealed this week.

Australian comparison
“Compared with Australia, the $216 million spent on broadcasting in 2017/18 is clearly inadequate,” Curran said at the announcement.

Her chart – from a PWC report commission by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage – showed Australia spends $1.6 billion on public broadcasting.

That is about $67 per person a year as opposed to just under $50 a head here. But Australians get a lot more public broadcasting for their money. They get commercial-free ABC TV channels, on-demand video and local and national radio as well ethnic-focused SBS radio and TV and indigenous channel NITV.

The ABC – the model for Labour’s policy according to its pre-election manfesto – is entirely funded directly by the government and is accountable for all of it.

How much you spend isn’t always the issue, but how you spend it.

The Pacific Media Centre has a content sharing partnership with RNZ Pacific.

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Disturbing Asia-Pacific millennials in the digital communication ecosystem

The digital age and the power and challenges of the Millennials as presented by keynote speaker Professor B P Sanjay, pro vice-chancellor of the University of Hyderabad, at the AMIC2018 conference at Manipal, Karnataka, India, on 7-9 June 2018.

The theme of the 26th AMIC (Asian Media Information and Communication) annual conference focuses on disturbing Asian millennials in the context of digital communication ecosystem. Disturbance or disruption is not considered negative but an opportunity to build on. The breadth and scope of this address cannot be  pan-Asian given the limitations of time. It is assumed that diverse and plural perspectives can be expected from the distinguished registrants to the conference. With a focus on India and comparable features in a few other contexts, this address will focus on implications of the changes for the Millennials. That Asia has a significant share of world millennials speaks volumes about the manner in which new media has caught their imagination in China and India. China’s adaptive context is more discussed in comparative literature than India.

The euphoric underpinnings of the digital era into which the Asian region and its sub-variants, the Asia-Pacific, the ASEAN and South Asia have leaped into is reminiscent of many such parallels in the past, both colonial and post-colonial that have highlighted the techno-centric dimension.  Panaceas for development, redeeming and reinforcing democratic traditions, empowerment and participation have been the paradigms of such celebration.  Several academic discourses have contested simplistic replacement notions of replacement of old media when a new medium emerges. Notwithstanding several critiques of the key structural variables that are needed for access, equity, and participation, the celebration of the new media cannot escape our attention and the new ray of hope is the disruption and potential for the millennials to carve out a better context. India in many forums has celebrated the advantages of its millennials. There are divergent hopes and cynicism with regard to what is described as the enormous latent power of the millennials in India described also as the demographic dividend. For example in the BRICS context the dividend factor for India is as follows:

 
The hope is the spread and access of legacy media in India along with a very high degree of spread of mobile telephony and its increasing utility as a device for enhanced social networking and consumption of information and entertainment content, more of the later. (1) The digital disruption in terms of complete substitution to new media took time to transcend the issues and concerns of the digital divide and many issues across demographic spread remain. However, by 2018, the connected consumers’ (in India)  base is about 550 million (dynamic statistics).

This base will be at least 50 percent and millennials will be substantial.


Source:  https://www.slideshare.net/wearesocial/digital-in-2018-in-southern-asia-86866282

Industry annual projections and assessment affirm that mobile will be the primary device for internet access. Across the world, 2018 stats indicate that Asia Pacific region has registered the highest mobile data traffic.  Games and entertainment precede all other forms of content with education coming up last.

Source: https://www.slideshare.net/wearesocial/digital-in-2018-in-southern-asia-8686622

The Indian language online content is expected to reach about 60 percent. Therefore, digital destinations across genres will capitalise on the profile that is non-English. The question legacy media leaders are reflecting upon is whether they can convert their content into digital attractions or face the disruption by digital natives that is eroding the traditional player’s role and position. This disruption may not be as fast and displacing as it is in the West but the writing on the wall is there.

Latest stats are available too but the above is from We Are social agency that releases worldwide and country specific statistics.

Information has been considered as an enabling and empowering input. The speed with which it currently travels through several platforms has raised erstwhile concerns about    legacy media content through adaptation or   user-generated content (UGC). Ethics apart, legacy media is reposed with higher faith based on its screening and verification process and layered institutional processing. While UGC reflects a paradigm shift with regard to the fact that theoretically allows for higher participation. The millennials profile is not uniform across countries and therefore the kind and nature of content have come into sharper focus. Critique of what kind of content is consumed or circulated is a matter of both academic discourse and the legal and regulatory frameworks.

The spectre of fake news with different connotations in other contexts stares us particularly in surcharged communal and electoral politics. The vulnerability is so high that the standard operating procedure in the recent past has been recourse to Internet shut down in volatile contexts. Fake news was also sought to be formally regulated and it was withdrawn as clarity was lacking as to where does such news originate. Several concerned professionals who have reflected on it suggest that among many platforms WhatsApp seems to be the most widely used.

“Fake news is a bit of a misleading term, believes Pankaj Jain, one of India’s most active fake news slayers: Fake news can mean many things – a mistake, intentional misleading, twisting a news story, or fabricating a complete lie. In the past while media houses and credible journalists have been found to put out misleading stories and/or mistakes, the most damage is done by people, fake social media profiles, polarising websites, and pages which spread fake news intentionally for garnering votes and spreading hate,” Jain says. Out of all the channels through which fake news spreads, Jain, whose initiative, Social Media Hoax Slayer, blows the lid off of false information being passed around social media platforms, feels the biggest culprit is the instant messaging app, WhatsApp.” (Sachadeva, 2018)

This has a comparative resonance in, for example, South East Asia.

Karen Lema and other analysing the scenario observe that “most worrying to media rights advocates is that several countries are promoting new legislation or expanding existing regulations to make publishing fake news an offense. The fear is that, rather than focusing on false stories published on social media, authoritarian leaders will use the new laws to target legitimate news outlets that are critical of them.” (Lema, 2018)

Reference in academic literature to user-generated content (UGC) is indicative of a reversal of the overwhelming argument that media in their broadest form is more of an information push or downloadable factor rather than the user having a say. Social media platforms with UGC are examples that have upheld the user. Promising as it may be, it has also revealed an inherent pattern of groupism, territorialization, and affiliations along homogenous sets of ideas and practices. In diverse and plural contexts, this has caused concerns of furthering social schisms.

Has entertainment gone beyond the cartels and expanded? Uploading of one’s own form of entertainment is evident and nascent revenue and acceptance models can be worked out. A related but important aspect with regard to the Millennials is their familiarity and dexterous use of new media platforms. “Global total broadcast TV advertising revenue, consisting of multi-channel and terrestrial TV advertising revenues, accounted for 97.2% of global total TV advertising revenue in 2014. But as viewing continues to move away from traditional networks towards digital alternatives, advertisers will consider changing where they allocate their expenditure to reach desired demographic segments.” (PWC estimate)

While education in the formal sense is imbued with a host of debates of the public sector, commercialization, and privatization, a default faith is placed in the new media that can virtually bring “handheld” education to the millennials.  This is an area public and private sector education sector   intend to reach out through online education and learning options.

The extension models of higher education seem to suggest that this can be tapped to bring the skilled youth to the workforce. The transformative potential and better forms of content production and dissemination are immense. With telecoms in fierce competition and entertainment firms collaborating with them, the spread is vast. Do they contribute to the millennials forging ahead or is the latent disruption more than the potential build up to better contexts daunts us?

I am hopeful that the vast research and academic experience that each one of you brings to this conference helps us unravel the complexities and move forward.

Professor B P Sanjay

Note
(1). The growth of print media for example is explained by many factors including literacy, low subscription and newsstand rates, hyper localisation etc. The millennial specific dimension has not been captured in industry-supported surveys as they say 12+ years and do not stratify the base by age.

Report by Pacific Media Centre

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Disturbing Asian millennials in the digital communication ecosystem

The digital age and the power and challenges of the Millennials as presented by keynote speaker Professor B P Sanjay, pro vice-chancellor of the University of Hyderabad, at the AMIC2018 conference at Manipal, Karnataka, India, on 7-9 June 2018.

The theme of the 26th AMIC (Asian Media Information and Communication) annual conference focuses on disturbing Asian millennials in the context of digital communication ecosystem. Disturbance or disruption is not considered negative but an opportunity to build on. The breadth and scope of this address cannot be  pan-Asian given the limitations of time. It is assumed that diverse and plural perspectives can be expected from the distinguished registrants to the conference. With a focus on India and comparable features in a few other contexts, this address will focus on implications of the changes for the Millennials. That Asia has a significant share of world millennials speaks volumes about the manner in which new media has caught their imagination in China and India. China’s adaptive context is more discussed in comparative literature than India.

The euphoric underpinnings of the digital era into which the Asian region and its sub-variants, the Asia-Pacific, the ASEAN and South Asia have leaped into is reminiscent of many such parallels in the past, both colonial and post-colonial that have highlighted the techno-centric dimension.  Panaceas for development, redeeming and reinforcing democratic traditions, empowerment and participation have been the paradigms of such celebration.  Several academic discourses have contested simplistic replacement notions of replacement of old media when a new medium emerges. Notwithstanding several critiques of the key structural variables that are needed for access, equity, and participation, the celebration of the new media cannot escape our attention and the new ray of hope is the disruption and potential for the millennials to carve out a better context. India in many forums has celebrated the advantages of its millennials. There are divergent hopes and cynicism with regard to what is described as the enormous latent power of the millennials in India described also as the demographic dividend. For example in the BRICS context the dividend factor for India is as follows:

 
The hope is the spread and access of legacy media in India along with a very high degree of spread of mobile telephony and its increasing utility as a device for enhanced social networking and consumption of information and entertainment content, more of the later. (1) The digital disruption in terms of complete substitution to new media took time to transcend the issues and concerns of the digital divide and many issues across demographic spread remain. However, by 2018, the connected consumers’ (in India)  base is about 550 million (dynamic statistics).

This base will be at least 50 percent and millennials will be substantial.


Source:  https://www.slideshare.net/wearesocial/digital-in-2018-in-southern-asia-86866282

Industry annual projections and assessment affirm that mobile will be the primary device for internet access. Across the world, 2018 stats indicate that Asia Pacific region has registered the highest mobile data traffic.  Games and entertainment precede all other forms of content with education coming up last.

Source: https://www.slideshare.net/wearesocial/digital-in-2018-in-southern-asia-8686622

The Indian language online content is expected to reach about 60 percent. Therefore, digital destinations across genres will capitalise on the profile that is non-English. The question legacy media leaders are reflecting upon is whether they can convert their content into digital attractions or face the disruption by digital natives that is eroding the traditional player’s role and position. This disruption may not be as fast and displacing as it is in the West but the writing on the wall is there.

Latest stats are available too but the above is from We Are social agency that releases worldwide and country specific statistics.

Information has been considered as an enabling and empowering input. The speed with which it currently travels through several platforms has raised erstwhile concerns about    legacy media content through adaptation or   user-generated content (UGC). Ethics apart, legacy media is reposed with higher faith based on its screening and verification process and layered institutional processing. While UGC reflects a paradigm shift with regard to the fact that theoretically allows for higher participation. The millennials profile is not uniform across countries and therefore the kind and nature of content have come into sharper focus. Critique of what kind of content is consumed or circulated is a matter of both academic discourse and the legal and regulatory frameworks.

The spectre of fake news with different connotations in other contexts stares us particularly in surcharged communal and electoral politics. The vulnerability is so high that the standard operating procedure in the recent past has been recourse to Internet shut down in volatile contexts. Fake news was also sought to be formally regulated and it was withdrawn as clarity was lacking as to where does such news originate. Several concerned professionals who have reflected on it suggest that among many platforms WhatsApp seems to be the most widely used.

“Fake news is a bit of a misleading term, believes Pankaj Jain, one of India’s most active fake news slayers: Fake news can mean many things – a mistake, intentional misleading, twisting a news story, or fabricating a complete lie. In the past while media houses and credible journalists have been found to put out misleading stories and/or mistakes, the most damage is done by people, fake social media profiles, polarising websites, and pages which spread fake news intentionally for garnering votes and spreading hate,” Jain says. Out of all the channels through which fake news spreads, Jain, whose initiative, Social Media Hoax Slayer, blows the lid off of false information being passed around social media platforms, feels the biggest culprit is the instant messaging app, WhatsApp.” (Sachadeva, 2018)

This has a comparative resonance in, for example, South East Asia.

Karen Lema and other analysing the scenario observe that “most worrying to media rights advocates is that several countries are promoting new legislation or expanding existing regulations to make publishing fake news an offense. The fear is that, rather than focusing on false stories published on social media, authoritarian leaders will use the new laws to target legitimate news outlets that are critical of them.” (Lema, 2018)

Reference in academic literature to user-generated content (UGC) is indicative of a reversal of the overwhelming argument that media in their broadest form is more of an information push or downloadable factor rather than the user having a say. Social media platforms with UGC are examples that have upheld the user. Promising as it may be, it has also revealed an inherent pattern of groupism, territorialization, and affiliations along homogenous sets of ideas and practices. In diverse and plural contexts, this has caused concerns of furthering social schisms.

Has entertainment gone beyond the cartels and expanded? Uploading of one’s own form of entertainment is evident and nascent revenue and acceptance models can be worked out. A related but important aspect with regard to the Millennials is their familiarity and dexterous use of new media platforms. “Global total broadcast TV advertising revenue, consisting of multi-channel and terrestrial TV advertising revenues, accounted for 97.2% of global total TV advertising revenue in 2014. But as viewing continues to move away from traditional networks towards digital alternatives, advertisers will consider changing where they allocate their expenditure to reach desired demographic segments.” (PWC estimate)

While education in the formal sense is imbued with a host of debates of the public sector, commercialization, and privatization, a default faith is placed in the new media that can virtually bring “handheld” education to the millennials.  This is an area public and private sector education sector   intend to reach out through online education and learning options.

The extension models of higher education seem to suggest that this can be tapped to bring the skilled youth to the workforce. The transformative potential and better forms of content production and dissemination are immense. With telecoms in fierce competition and entertainment firms collaborating with them, the spread is vast. Do they contribute to the millennials forging ahead or is the latent disruption more than the potential build up to better contexts daunts us?

I am hopeful that the vast research and academic experience that each one of you brings to this conference helps us unravel the complexities and move forward.

Professor B P Sanjay

Note
(1). The growth of print media for example is explained by many factors including literacy, low subscription and newsstand rates, hyper localisation etc. The millennial specific dimension has not been captured in industry-supported surveys as they say 12+ years and do not stratify the base by age.

Report by Pacific Media Centre

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Public broadcasting and an advocate’s ‘disaster readiness’ revival mission

TRIBUTE: By Geoff Lealand in Auckland

David Beatson, broadcaster, editor, journalist, public intellectual and media visionary, proposed a new, or renewed, role for New Zealand public broadcasting in anticipating and managing risk – such as natural disasters and technological crises, says an academic in his public tribute.

Speaking at an inaugural memorial lecture in Ponsonby today celebrating the life of Beatson, Associate Professor Geoff Lealand of Waikato University said that when he died last year New Zealand had “lost a champion for public media and he will continue to be missed”.

The inaugural lecture to a packed Leys Institute library hall was organised by the Better Public Media Trust and preceded a panel debate by Broadcasting and Communications Minister Clare Curran and Radio New Zealand chief executive Paul Thompson about the planned “evolution” of RNZ into RNZ+.

Dr Lealand’s full address:

Tena koto, tena kotu tena toku katoa

I do feel privileged in being asked to deliver this inaugural David Beatson lecture today, and in such auspicious company. It will be a short speech and I will try not to meander (even though my opening remarks may seem a little oblique).

Better Public Media … advocacy for a stronger independent media in New Zealand. Image: David Robie/PMC

-Partners-

Others have lauded David’s contributions to the intellectual life of New Zealand—and to public media in this country, in particular. My role really is to remind us of his legacy, and how we need to keep steadfast in our advocacy (even though things are looking a little rosier than this time last year).

My first encounter with David was in the mid-1980s when he was the editor of the New Zealand Listener, working out of the Bowen State Building in Wellington (in the days when it was a publication less obsessed with house prices and health scares). I was working in the same building, in the Audience Research Unit of BCNZ; my first job in NZ after returning from studies in the United States and a position at the British Film Institute.

My role was to do qualitative audience research (the kind of research which investigates the motivations and responses to media content). It was also my first illuminating experience with ratings; quantitative measurements which claim to record “presence in a room where a TV set is on”. This experience led to a deep and abiding disbelief in the efficacy of this way of describing audience behaviour.

But that is a topic for another day. The reason why I sought out David was because I had started writing a regular column for the Listener about audience research, mainly working with David’s deputy editor Helen Paske. I wandered down the halls of the building one day, to suggest to David that I could also write an occasional book review, starting with a piece on a monograph by Massey University sociologist Brennon Wood, applying Marxist theory to an analysis of television news.

I still remember the look of complete disbelief on David’s face at the sheer audacity of anyone coupling Karl Marx with the production of television. At this point I realised that our politics didn’t match, for I was more receptive to the idea that news production embodied processes of power, reinforcement of political norms, and implied assent from viewers.

But this did not inhibit friendly conversations when we met again, in the ensuing years. One thing I always liked about David was his willingness to listen to and acknowledge that academics had something useful to add to debates about the role of the media in NZ life (the same cannot be said of some of his contemporaries!).

Generosity and open-mindedness
I am not the only one to know of David’s generosity and open-mindedness. For example, Roger Horrocks, who worked closely with David when they were both on the NZ On Air Board, sent me the following candid comments;

David had a rich life-time experience of broadcasting, which stood in strong contrast to the politicians and politically appointed members of various boards who fiddled around with broadcasting without really knowing what they doing (there were both Labour and National examples). David had a deep understanding of that territory.

He was a man of integrity. In my experience, a person with principles who didn’t play games. Those were not qualities you could take for granted in the fields of politics or broadcasting administration.

He had known NZ broadcasting when it still had a public service spirit, and he remained wonderfully loyal to that. The history of the last 30 years has been the gradual victory of commercialism and populism over public service. David kept the faith, and it mattered so much to him that he never stopped trying—trying to hold back the tide. Whenever I met him in his last years, he would talk of new initiatives, new possibilities. He never stopped campaigning.

Roger declares David as a great defender of the idea of public service at its best. In his own words, he grew up in a world where the communicator’s basic task was defined simply: inform, educate and entertain, ie not to pontificate, declare viewpoint nor share personal prejudices or judgements.

Furthermore, David believed that the core values of the news media should be fairness and equitybecause it is in the common interest that public media delivers those important non-commercial values in ways that reflect the needs and interests of the diverse communities that must interact in our society.

Innovative thinker
He was also an innovative thinker. Even in the late months of his life, when he was wheelchair-bound, he was offering challenging and innovative ideas (his iMedia/Public Media Project) for ways of protecting and promoting public media spaces and voices, framed with an acute awareness that technology was bringing enormous changes in media production and delivery, and that things could never be the same again. But it was not a nostalgia for times past, but motivated by the need to preserve the best of media in the new environment, which in David’s words was eating the New Zealand mainstream media’s lunch…dinner…and breakfast.

The last time I heard a public presentation from David was the address he gave to the AGENDA 2020 seminar at Auckland University of Technology last year. He provided an overview of the challenges facing the media (both globally and locally), then revealed one of his new initiatives, new possibilities. He proposed a new (or renewed?) role for New Zealand broadcasting—television in particular—in anticipating and managing risk—most particularly, natural and technological crises, with their potential to disrupt life in both the short term and long term.

I think we have seen sufficient recent examples, both local and global, of the urgency for crisis management. David’s proposals to use very significant spare capacity for advertising-free, New Zealand ‘public goods’ local content, for periods of national or regional states of emergency, interaction, and local content neglected by mainstream broadcasters. I doubt that David had any time for a laissez-faire or a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to all aspects of NZ life, and this also would have applied to the looming possibilities of disaster.

Coincidentally, I have friends in Helensville who were still waiting for reconnection of electricity a full week after the storms of two weeks ago. David would have pointed to this event as an example of risk realised (the lack of communication between Vector and customers was a recurrent complaint, together with suggestions of degraded infrastructure). This was an event of medium magnitude; we can longer dismiss the possibility of events of greater magnitude.

When David died, we lost a champion for public media and he will continue to be missed. Others will need to step up (and I think that BPM is one) to fill the space; space which too easily gets colonised by self-appointed, no-nothing commentators and simplistic thinkers (you know who I mean).

As Roger comments, many New Zealander’s alive today have grown up in a world of neoliberal thinking and lack any clear understanding of the principles of public service broadcasting. In remembering David, we need also to remember that concept and that tradition!

I roto i te mahara (In loving memory), David.

The inaugural David Beatson Memorial Lecture in Auckland, 22 April 2018, delivered by Associate Professor Geoff Lealand, research associate, Screen and Media Studies, University of Waikato.

Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran and RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson at the Ponsonby public broadcasting seminar in Ponsonby today. Image: David Robie/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Indonesia prone to cyber attacks up to the 2025, says digital expert

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Indonesia prone to cyber attacks up to the 2025, says digital expert

Anonymous Indonesia … cybersecurity in the country is regarded as being “in its infancy”. Image: Tech In Asia

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Indonesia is predicted to be prone to cyber attacks from this year until 2025, says a media communication and technology consultant.

A.T. Kearney’s media communication and technology researcher Germaine Hoe Yen Yi says ASEAN countries, especially Indonesia, face this problem because of the shortage of digital experts.

“The low policy supervision, the lack of experts in the digital field, high susceptibility and low investments,” said Yen Yi during the Southeast Asia emergency security presentation in Jakarta last week.

A.T. Kearney is a global management consulting firm with offices in more than 40 countries.

From 10 ASEAN countries, only Singapore and Malaysia are considered among the most digitally advanced countries.

However, Philippines and Thailand are in their “development stage” regarding cybersecurity.

-Partners-

Indonesia’s cybersecurity is considered to be in its infancy, which includes its regulations, national strategy development, governance, and international partnership.

“Malaysia is expected to need more than 4000 cybersecurity experts by the year 2020 to fight against cybersecurity issues,” said Yen Yi.

Meanwhile, in investments, ASEAN countries still provides limited funding for cyber securities with an average of 0.07 percent from their gross domestic product.

Yen Yi said the number must be increased to 0.35 percent and 0.61 percent compared to their GDP in 2025.

Cisco ASEAN president Naveen Menon said that a county’s success in digitisation depended on its ability to resist cyber attack threats. He also urged stakeholders to unite and help build cybersecurity abilities.

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PNG mobile revolution about to enter new high-speed cable phase

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: PNG mobile revolution about to enter new high-speed cable phase

Papua New Guinea’s cellphone culture change … 3 million mobile users, says new research. Image: Ourmaninproject

By Scott Waide in Lae

In 2007 when Digicel entered the PNG market, Papua New Guineans realised how much in unnecessary charges they had been paying for mobile and internet services.

Until 2007, the mobile phone monopoly run by a government subsidiary, BeeMobile Communications, forced customers to pay K125 (NZ$45) for a mobile start-up kit which contained a SIM card and K100 in phone credits.

Digicel slashed costs and flooded the market with up to 1 million handsets selling at K30 a piece with free SIM cards.

Over the last 15 years, the implementation of government legislation and regulations have drastically improved the digital landscape in Papua New Guinea.

Research this year conducted by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) puts the figure of internet users in PNG at 960,000.

There are more than 3 million mobile subscribers, which means at least four of 10 people own a mobile phone.

-Partners-

However, despite 15 years of legislative and regulatory reforms and general improvements, the country still lags behind in ICT infrastructure and the cost of services.

Among highest Asia-Pacific rates
Statistically speaking, Papua New Guineans continue to pay among the highest mobile data rates in the Asia Pacific region.

Three of PNG’s top mobile service providers; Digicel, BMobile Vodafone, and Telikom are the six most expensive service providers in Asia Pacific.

Papua New Guinea’s closest neighbours – Indonesia, New Zealand, Fiji and Australia – are among the top six countries that have the cheapest rates.

Ten years on and Papua New Guineans are on the brink of another phase of development.

The government’s budget policy for 2018 highlights that a new high-speed internet cable funded by the Australian government will be laid from Australia to PNG. It will take 24 months to complete.

This is expected to take care of PNG’s ballooning ICT demands over the next 25 years.

The submarine cable will complement the investments to mobile telephone infrastructure to improve the availability of 3G and 4G services to more Papua New Guineans.

Through community-based programmes, NICTA also has plans to support the expansion of access to high-speed broadband internet connectivity to selected communities.

As Papua New Guinea prepares to host a series of APEC meetings in 2018, the country is under a lot of pressure to live up to expectations as an exemplary player in the region despite its ICT challenges.

Bringing costs down will trigger, improvements in large business activity and SMEs. It is an area of the economy that desperately needs a boost with government help.

Scott Waide is the Lae bureau chief of EMTV News and a former journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation bureau in Port Moresby. He has won several awards for his journalism. EMTV News reports are republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.

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