Turn Down the Americans

The CW (2)

Image via Wikipedia

As a recent Australian, I often fall into the category of being a bit too zealous the way that recent converts to anything are. So I’m very keen on supporting Australian media, in particular programming. One of the things I love is that there is a mandate that Australian networks must carry and produce a certain amount of Australian/New Zealand content. Yet, you get the sense that the Australian networks loathe this. I think they’d gladly contract out news if they could.

A key indicator? The programming on the new digital channels. TEN’s new channel, ELEVEN, carries programming mostly seen on low-power US stations. GO’s lineup could easily mirror that of a mid-tier CW affiliate. This is not something to be proud of unless you are in the Accounting Department!

It seems that like their American counterparts, the Australian networks are now mired in the battle between creatives and bean counters. Yet, while in the US, the bean counters demanded cheap new programming created at home, here the bean counters are demanding cheap ancient programming from abroad to fill up these new channels. This is not acceptable even on commercial television.

Commercial television, of course, must turn a profit. Yet, is it important to turn a profit at the cost of sacrificing national culture? All broadcasters, be they state-funded or not, have a cultural responsibility to the nation where their programming is targeted. People have a desire to see their own lives reflected onscreen. If not, then why do we still see this continual reference to “our XYZ”  for any Australian who is noticed overseas?

Either Australian networks realise that they are Australian and up their commitment to the nation (and the government gets serious behind efforts to promote Australia even to Australians!) or they should be stripped of their licenses.

I’m not joking.

We need to have the free trade agreement with the US looked at and re-examined in terms of cultural impact.


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