Australia ABC keeps distance with China’s state-run media
Posted by Author on August 19, 2011
(SMH)- THE ABC says its independence charter stops it getting too close to Chinese-state controlled media after its rival Sky News gained a strategic toehold in China in the contest for Australia Network.
Sky News has signed with China’s state television, CCTV, for live broadcasts into the world’s most populous market – a deal central to its pitch for the $223 million contract to run Australia’s overseas television service.
The promise of greater access in China was key to a panel of public servants in May judging Sky News the better bid over the ABC, only for the Gillard government to intervene before its final decision and to change the tender rules.
The ABC yesterday said it had its own arrangements with Chinese state broadcasters for exchanging news footage, including CCTV. But the deals do not extend to the exchange of live news.
”Unlike the ABC, whose independence and integrity is guaranteed by its charter, CCTV remains a state-controlled media organisation … it must operate within the constraints imposed upon it by the Chinese Communist Party,” the ABC statement said.
The ABC runs Australia Network on behalf of the Foreign Affairs department, reaching 44 countries around Asia and the Pacific.
Government rules forbid the ABC and Sky News speaking publicly on the tender without approval – a restriction the ABC acknowledged.
The ABC said given the trust of the Australian public to provide independent, balanced reporting it must retain full editorial control over all material put to air.
”Consequently, the ABC has steadfastly resisted overtures to strike more formal deals with the likes of CCTV for the reciprocal broadcast of each other’s unedited content,” it said.
The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, was not available to comment last night on whether the ABC statement contravened the tender rules.
The ABC said Australia Network had lodged an application for a permanent presence on Chinese television screens and this was being considered by Chinese authorities.
China has refused all foreign broadcasters access – known as landing rights – in recent years. No one from CCTV was available to answer questions last night.
Sky declined to comment.
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