Tag Archives: Media

AFL Üeber alles but football can find its place.

The big TV deal gained by the AFL has been big news in the media yesterday.  The AFL journos reported in triumphant tones: “The AFL yesterday trumpeted its position as the most powerful sporting competition in the country by securing a record $1.253 billion broadcast rights agreement with Foxtel, the Seven Network and Telstra for the next five years.” Writes Caroline Wilson.

It is inevitable that this made somewhat uncomfortable reading for a number of Association Football fans.  Being eternally suspicious of the AFL some fear that this will mean that Foxtel will be less willing to pay more for the A-League.  As Adrian Musolino writes in The Roar:

Meanwhile, the Socceroos’ free-to-air package will soon be up for grabs (thanks to the anti-siphoning revamp), while the A-League, Super Rugby, NBL, ANZ Netball Championship and the rest will fight for a free-to-air presence – an eternal struggle – in a post-OneHD sports only landscape.

The concern for them is that the AFL and the NRL would have squeezed free-to-air networks of so much of their allocated budget and time allowance for sport, that there’ll be little if any scraps left, particularly without the OneHD sporting haven. This could have a significant impact on the fringe codes.

Now that the AFL’s big bang billion-dollar deal has been unleashed, the rest of the sporting landscape can form from its remains. And remains is all that could be left once the NRL is done…

Of course it wasn’t long before the doom and gloom that characterises the mood of many football fans came to the surface.  An article in the football website ‘Four Four Two Australia’ spell the pessimism out:

Even as the deal currently stands, Fox Sports insiders say they are set to offer even less than they currently do for the same package they already get.

“The current deal is equal to Fox paying for 80 percent of each club’s salary cap,” said the source close to negotiations. “If there is no Fox, there is no league.

“When it’s renewed, even for the same package, Fox will not pay the same. A-League’s performance doesn’t justify it.

“And if the FFA insist on one pick-of-the-round game on FTA then the offer could be as low as $3m per year.”

Of course this statements could be seen as Foxtel telling the FFA not to puch for a Free To Air arrangement.  From what I hear the A-League is actually has an audience, especially in the months between November and March when the AFL is in its off-season.  According to the respected sports and entertainment consultancy, Gemba, 45% of Australians are fans of AFL football, with 40% being fans of football, ahead of rugby league (37%) and rugby union (29%). [
But the pessimism also betrays some delusions amongst football fans.  The simple fact is that Association Football will never be the major code in Australia.  Why?  Because Australian Rules Football and Rugby League has had the opportunity to build on more of 100n years of becoming part of a culture which is enmeshed with families and memories.  The fact that generations of people in Melbourne watched football with their parents when they were children mean that football has become what the footy show jingle say ‘more than a game’.  Following a team means a tradition, or being closer to a family and a group.
I can see this in my situation.  Yes I like Australian Rules Football and I follow Carlton.  However Association Football has a much greater emotional pull.  That is because is the game of my childhood,  and in some way even if AAMI Park is not the San Siro and the quality of the football is not even near, I love going to a football game because it creates an emotional link which is meaningful.  You can’t break these links and think that people will just abandon one game for another because ‘it’s the biggest game in the world’ or such arguments.  And anyway I believe very few people would switch from one code to the other.  Most likely they would add it to their main code of preference, just like I did with AFL.
So Association Football fans have to accept that our game is not going to be the main code.  Australia will not become an new Brasil or a new Spain when it comes to football.  However this doesn’t mean that we should just give up and think that Association Fooball has no place in this country, quite the contrary.  Soccer (if we want to call it that) does, and it has to be recognised not as a foreign sport played by foreigners but as an integral part of the Australian sporting culture, and a sport that source.
We have to stop thinking we want to be as big as the other codes.  It wastes our energy.  We have to be smart.  Expanding too quickly or having starry eyed investors/owners that want their teams to play in the same big stadiums as AFL and NRL teams, just because we want to be like them is cringing and it will not work.  If we can’t compete with the huge codes with their friendly media association football has to move and find its place in a new market.  We may not be Fosters but we can be a pretty good Mountain Goat beer .  Not as popular, but providing quality and more importantly being sustainable within its means.
This is not new.  The Professional Players Association submission to the Crawford report spelled all out clearly in 2003.  And today in their website they spelled out again.
Issues such as teams having a strong geographic link to their fans,  play out of boutique stadia which generate an atmosphere with average crowds of 10,000 and build the relationship between the A-League clubs and the local football communities they are designed to serve are their suggestions, and they are paramount.
The establishment of the A-League was a good start.  Now let’s build on it.


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Outing the anonymous blogger. Good for the gander?

If you are not into Australian political blogging you would have missed the blogstorm that has happened today.  I won’t go into detail because other blogs have by now extensively covered what has happened.  Tobias Ziegler writes:

Even if you haven’t read his blog, if you followed the media coverage of the election campaign there’s a pretty good chance you know about Grog’s Gamut.   He’s the pseudonymous blogger whose pointed critique of the lack of policy questions from the press pack drew a lot of attention and sparked a debate, with journos and media bosses such as the ABC’s Mark Scott weighing in. Now, The Australian has deemed his identity to be news, and they also seem to have decided that public servants aren’t entitled to hold political opinions.

James Massola wrote the story which is titled: “Controversial political blogger unmasked as Federal Public servant” GASP! SHOCK! An Australian citizen has the temerity to express an opinion.  Let’s give Massola the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t write the headline, but the way it is constructed tells a lot about the way The Australian sees this.  First of all there is nothing ‘controversial’ about Grog’s blogs.  I guess they would be if you live in a conservative Abbott-loving world, which of course  The Australian is.  But a lot of what Grogs was writing about was on his frustration on how the media covered the election from a Labor supporter perspective.  Now if supporting the main centre left party in a democratic country is ‘controversial’ it show that The Australian has gone to the right wing pixies when it comes to its political positions.

The other thing is that Grog is a public servant and as such shouldn’t express his views.  I don’t know why public servants should be political eunuchs?  You just lose your right of expressing an opinion because you are employed by the government?  Of course there should be limits on how ‘political’ a public servant should be, especially if they are in senior positions and if their public opinion would show that that person is unable to perform a balanced advisory function.  If Ken Henry started a blog saying that Joe Hockey is a dickhead we would have a problem, but as far as I can discern Grog wasn’t in that position.

You can take the apolitical public service too far.  In Victoria, when Jeff Kennett was Premier I was an active member of the ALP and a public servant.  I hated that government with a passion.  It was arrogant, it had a disregard for communities and of course the public service.  I actively worked for its demise, even got a couple of letter published in the paper, so was I breaching some sort of code?  I was situated in such a low level in the Public Service that it really didn’t matter (I think that my position description was ‘shit kicker’) but if we extend the ‘apolitical’ public service dictum to its extent then even Joe at filing cannot say anything publicly about a Premier or a Prime Minister.

No, I think that the reason for the outing is another one.  For many years some journalists got a bit prickly that bloggers were getting attention.  I mean, why take notice of the opinions of these amateur upstarts?  Journalists get paid for their opinions, so even if they are absolute drivel they are thus much more important than any writing which appears online on free blog software.  So until bloggers are unread and insignificant then they can be ignored, but if someone like Mark Scott take notice, well then that’s it.  You should be outed and named.  You want to play big journalist?  Then be like us and tell us who you are.

What it is forgotten here is that unlike journalists, that are paid by telling us their opinion, bloggers do this (and often better) for free.  They are not paid and therefore they can remain anonymous all they like.  If a heavy media person takes notice that’s great, but that doesn’t mean that someone who writes for fun and in its own time should have his or her identity revealed if they don’t want to disclose it.  Poor show.

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The Australian is entitled to be anti-Labor (as long as it doesn’t pretend it’s ‘balanced’)

There is a documentary about Justice Murphy which is titled: ‘Mr Neil is entitled to be an agitator‘  which takes its title from the judgement handed down by Justice Murphy in the High Court in favour of a Queensland Aboriginal activist. Mr Neal had been initially convicted and sentenced to two months hard labour for spitting at a white employee of the Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs. On appeal to the Queensland Supreme Court, the sentence was increased to six months with hard labour. Mr Neal then appealed to the High Court of Australia and Lionel Murphy was a Justice of that Court.

There has been plenty of arguments against the campaign waged by The Australian against the Labor Government.  During its first term, during the election, during the independents’ deliberations and most likely in the future as part and parcel of the Liberals’ campaign of destabilisation of the Labor minority government.

I referred in an earlier post about this by linking a ripper article by Bernard Keane.  Others in the blogosphere came in the fray.  There was a great piece of sarcasm from Tim Dunlop for instance.  But as long as the criticisms came from bloggers it could be ignored.  However when a reputable mainstream journalist like Laura Tingle stated the same thing (PDF file). Then the shyte really hit the fan.

I won’t go into the responses from ‘The Australian’, basically because Mr Denmore has already done so in one of his posts.

Rupert’s paid poodles are circling the wagons, proving once again that there is nothing more viciously tribal than a News Ltd newsroom.

In an obviously coordinated move, Murdoch’s scribblers sought to ridicule what they clearly had been told to say was a paranoid attack by Fairfax columnist Laura Tingle and the blogosphere over News Ltd’s partisan news coverage.

Geoff Elliott, Mark Day and Caroline Overington sang from the same songsheet, declaring in one way or another that News Ltd was being assailed for doing its job in applying the unflinching scrutiny to the government demanded by its membership of the Fourth Estate.

Personally I have no problems with The Australian being anti-Labor, and being biased towards the Liberals as long as they state clearly that is their editorial line.  There was a big brouhaha when an editorial from The Australian stated that it wanted to ‘destroy the Greens’.  Unlike many left bloggers I thought, great, at last we have a clear statement of what they want, rather than masquerading as impartial  commentators (and thus having their opinions regurgitated by other journalists at the ABC).

I wonder whether there is an Anglosphere tradition that the media has to be seen as ‘balanced and impartial’ even if it is anything of the sort.  News limited is an example.  Not only with ‘The Australian’ but of course with the vociferous right wing outlet in the USA Fox News.  Despite most intelligent viewer from both sides knowing that they are biased towards the conservatives they still have the slogan ‘Fair and balanced’ under their logo.  We are not yet at the “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” “Ignorance is Strength.” level but almost there.

In Italy there seems to be less need to be ‘balanced’ in the way that there are lots of newspapers that state where they stand outright.  So the balance is achieved by maximising the  number of opinions in the printed media.  So we have newspapers from the parties themselves.  L’Unità was founded as official newspaper of the Italian Communist Party and today is linked to the Italian Democratic PartyIl Secolo d’Italia, is the paper of Alleanza Nazionale, which is a conservative Party which was in coalition with Berlusconi.  Then you have papers which while not strictly belonging to a party you know where they come from.  One example is Il Manifesto,  While it calls itself communist, it is not connected to any political party. It was founded as a monthly review in 1969 by a collective of left-wing journalists engaged in the wave of critical thought and activity on the Italian left in that period.  Then you have Il Foglio, a centre-right newspaper, founded in 1996 by the Italian journalist and politician Giuliano Ferrara.

There are other examples.  La Repubblica is centre left, Il Giornale is centre right.  Maybe only newspapers such as Il Corriere della Sera, or La Stampa have any claim to be impartial.

So, The Australian, don’t be afraid.  You are a pro-Liberal, anti-Labor and hate the Greens.  State it on your masthead.  It would be more honest.

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Media obsession?

I have been trying to hide beneath a rock recently trying to ignore the possibility of  and Abbott government although it is not easy.  The worst is reading comments from the mainstream press online, as it seems the Liberal Party has placed Young Liberals to basically spend most of their time to write anti-Labor, pro-Liberal comments.  So I sought refuge amongst the posts at Pollbludger where it seems it is visited almost all by Labor supporters.  Of course they are all very anxious that the government that in most circumstances should be re-elected is in serious danger of being turfed out after one term. and that we are going back to the Howard years, in fact even worse with Tony Abbott. However some of them have almost tipped over and have become a bit obsessive.   There was an American political analysts on Lateline that talked about ‘Horse Race Elections’ where the election is seen as a horse race where a candidate is ahead at one moment and behind the next.

Well at Pollbludger is more like a ‘two flies on the wall’ election.   Every nuance, every statement is seen as a triumph or a disaster.  For instance one contributor wrote that Julia Gillard was going to lose the elections because she looked tired on the 7.30 Report.  I mean, really.

Of course one of the favourite complaints is the media, and to some extent I agree with them.  The media overall has been quite negative towards the Government.  I am not sure why. Whether they felt that Labor was too ahead and they felt that the Liberals were the underdog, or perhaps they were treated badly by Kevin Rudd’s staff.   Of course anyone with a passing interest in political coverage would know that News Limited, and especially ‘The Australian’ has been very anti Labor for some time now, so there shouldn’t be any surprises there.  What is disappointing however is how the ABC has basically used the narrative from ‘The Australian’ to frame its own coverage.

This feeling is also shared by others.  Bernard Keane writes on Crikey.

With the battle to attack the cash handouts lost, The Australian, including some of its Press Gallery journalists, began a dishonest campaign against the education component of the stimulus packages, a campaign that has twice now, once by the ANAO, and a second time last week in the first Orgill report, been comprehensively and systematically discredited by independent analyses. The ABC has enthusiastically backed up News Ltd in this campaign, with its “Online Investigations Unit” misrepresenting the ANAO report.

Again speculation is rife on why the ABC has been behaving this way.  Is it because it tries to shake the belief that it has an inherent Labor bias?  Or has Howard finally been successful in turning the ABC as Liberal friendly acolyte of News Limited?

Reading the posts of some of Pollbludger contributors it seems to me that they are watching ABC News 24 and Sky News simultaneously while listening to ABC News Radio at the same time.  I do wonder whether this media overload does warp your sense of reality where a comment is seen as being monumentally against your side whether that’s true or not.  The fact is that most voters out there do not watch the media incessantly or have their votes swayed by small events.  They do look at policies and also make an assessment on whether a particular leader has the qualities to become a Prime Minister.

Whether most of them agree with you or not it’s another matter.

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