ABC chairman Justin Milne has argued the necessity of investing in the government-funded broadcaster’s digital future, warning that the “crossover point” has been reached.
In a speech at the American Chamber of Commerce in Sydney yesterday, Milne said that if some of the ABC’s rivals got their way and it was barred from serving audiences on digital platforms, it would “wither away and cease to exist”.
Mile noted that linear broadcast audiences are in steady decline and the migration to digital platforms will only accelerate.
“The crossover point has been reached, so modernising the ABC has become a matter of urgency,” he said.
“Within a generation, a majority of Australians will no longer use broadcast platforms at all.”
“That means that at least some of the spectrum currently used to broadcast television will soon be available to the government to be auctioned to other users, like telcos, who will use it to connect people and things, raising billions of dollars for government along the way.
Milne said there are sound arguments for investing just a small part of that future windfall in modern digital media platforms for the public.
“This would mean that, when the day finally arrives and linear platforms are switched off for good, Australians would be assured of reliable access to high quality public broadcasting content and platforms,” he said.
“It would provide Australians with greatly enhanced digital services that, for instance, know what ABC shows you like, how you like to watch, and where in a program you finished watching last time.”
Milne said investing to make the ABC future-ready would have other substantial public benefits.
“Imagine, for instance, if a single platform could provide all Australians with all the digitised assets of the ABC, and the National Film and Sound Archive, the Australian War Memorial, the National Library of Australia, or state orchestras,” he said.
“This would have significant implications for future education and the digital economy.
“Australia must decide whether it wants an ABC in the future.”
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