Rupert’s own goal

The term “own goal” came to the minds of our Media Glass House team members when reading an item lambasting the ABC in Monday’s edition of The Australian.

While most Australians have long recognised that most Australians carry an article slamming the national broadcaster, we thought the latest effort might have overstepped the mark.

When we say “overstepped the mark” we don’t refer to the vehemence of the anti-ABC rhetoric that so often spews from the pages of the News Corp Australia broadshit. That reached peak outrage long ago and has been maintained at a ferocious and vindictive level.

No, we mean that we think News Corp Australia itself might just have damaged its own case when it comes to its long-running campaign to destroy the ABC or have one of its compliant conservative federal governments flog it off to the highest bidder such as News Corp Australia.

On Monday it ran an item telling readers that the “majority of Australians believe that ABC television is not worth paying a single cent for”. (pictured)

Oh dear, not a single cent? For an organisation that a few decades back we were told was costing individual taxpayers only eight cents a day?

What source could The Australian possibly have for this shocking revelation?

It turns out the source was some market research on the ABC conducted for the Menzies Research Centre.

Yes, that’s Menzies as in the founder of the Liberal Party.

Yes, that’s the same Liberal Party that has never liked the ABC and would dearly love to follow the commands of right-wingers such as those populating the Menzies Research Centre itself and outfits such as the Institute of Public Affairs and put dear old Aunty on the auction block.

Yes, that’s the same party whose national council a few years back voted 2:1 to privatise the ABC.

But back to the research findings.

Monday’s page three item in The Oz told the paper’s reader  that 52.6% of those surveyed said they wouldn’t be prepared to pay anything for access to ABC TV’s current content while the rest said they would be willing to pay on average $2.94 a month.

The research also discovered that 79.2% of those asked would not subscribe to ABC TV if it were to become a subscription service like streaming giant Netflix. We’re not sure if News Corp Australia’s streaming service Binge was mentioned for comparative purposes.

The study also apparently found that “most Australians” perceive that the ABC “has an inherent political bias”.

The research asked respondents if they thought the ABC was “more left wing” or “more right wing” and 66.1% plumped for more left wing. More left or than what we’re not sure.

This perceived lefty bias was apparently identified by Labor, Liberal, and Greens voters.

Right on queue Monday’s story quoted the Menzies Research Centre’s executive director Nick Cater as saying the findings “should end any debate about the possibility of privatising the ABC”.

Unfortunately for the ABC by “end any debate” Mr Cater meant that privatisation was the clear and only course of action.

“It [ABC TV] is not a going commercial concern in its present form,” Mr Cater said. “The amount customers would be prepared to pay for the service would only cover a fraction of the cost.”

We’re sorry Mr Cater, but we’re not sure that you understand the concept of a public broadcaster. They are not meant to be commercial outfits.

“Since two-thirds of Australians think it leans to the left of politics, it has clearly failed the test of impartiality,” Mr Cater added, yet again proving he doesn’t understand the difference between a public broadcaster and a government broadcaster – one serves the public the other serves the government in power.

Apparently the latter, a sort of taxpayer-funded Liberal Party propaganda arm, is what Mr Cater desires.

“The low value viewers put on its content suggests it is also failing the quality test,” Mr Cater claimed.

Considering all of the results cited above and others we feel sure it would have been appreciated by readers if they had been told the usual basics about market research-based stories.

Things like the sample size, geographic and demographic spread, the wording of the questions asked just to make sure there was no “push-polling”, and even if the research was based on a true random sample or relied on respondents to self-identify. All of these can help readers assess how much weight and importance to place on the outcomes.

Regardless of those omissions, we do wonder if The Oz thought through the potential implications of the story.

We kinda wonder what the results might be if researchers conducted the same survey but removed “ABC TV” from the questions and replaced it with “News Corp Australia” or “Murdoch media” or even “The Australian newspaper”.

We kinda think the results wouldn’t be too kind.