Friday, October 10, 2014

ABC news and current affairs programs not popular

Their snooty Leftism would have something to do with that

SHOWPIECE ABC news and current affairs programs are failing to pull strong audiences, ­according to ratings data released in response to senate estimates committee questioning.

Lateline, Q&A, Insiders and Four Corners do not appear in the list of the national broadcaster’s top 20 programs for the first six months of the year.

The 7pm Saturday bulletin was the only regular news or current affairs program in the top 20. It was joined by two one-offs; Treasurer Joe Hockey’s first budget speech and the special edition of 7.30 that followed.

ABC news director Kate ­Torney yesterday hit back at comments from Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week that staff and viewers are entitled to question the broadcaster’s management over how $70 million in additional funding over three years it was awarded last year is being spent, insisting her division is providing “a substantial return on investment’’. But government figures have seized on the ratings data to call on the ABC to review the tone and content of its news and current affairs programming.

Senate leader Eric Abetz said managing director Mark Scott could learn from the results.

“While it is true that ratings are not the be-all and end-all, it is telling that programs like Lateline, Insiders, Four Corners, Q&A, Foreign Correspondent and the ABC’s weeknight news just don’t seem to rate,” he said.  “Surely this should be telling Mr Scott something.”

Tasmanian MP Andrew ­Nikolic said the ratings “demonstrates the message I hear in my electorate every day: the ABC’s priorities and programming decisions, particularly in relation to their news and current affairs area, have lost touch with mainstream Australia’’.

“The ABC is funded by the taxpayer and must work harder to ensure its statutory obligations of accuracy and impartiality,” Mr Nikolic said, adding the ABC would win strong audiences for its news and current affairs programs “only by adhering more closely to recognised standards of objective journalism’’.

Mr Scott has flagged news and current affairs as a key field for the future of the ABC.

Ms Torney on The Drum website yesterday defended the corporation’s newsgathering.

“Just five years ago, ABC News was broadcasting two half-hour television news bulletins to Australian audiences each weekday,” she wrote. “Today, we deliver television news all day every day through ABC News 24 and have increased our programming on ABC TV from one hour per day to more than five hours most days of the week, through the addition of programs like ABC News Breakfast, ABC News Early ­Edition and The Drum.”

Ms Torney said the new ­national reporting team had delivered 293 stories in the first eight months of the year. Government figures pointed out this averaged out to little over one a day.


Bad financial advice very common

Personal insurance has long been a bit of a racket.  I wrote an article on that myself in the 1970s

Today’s release of ASIC’s damning review into life insurance advice provides the clearest evidence yet as to why FoFA laws should be further strengthened and not weakened.

“ASIC’s review highlights “an unacceptable level of failure” by sales-driven financial advisers offering inappropriate advice that does not put the best interest of consumers first,” said Superannuation fund spokesman David Whiteley. 

The report detailed:

*       more than a third of advice (37 per cent) did not meet the laws relating to appropriate advice, a result that ASIC describes as an ‘unacceptable level of failure’;

*       a staggering 96% of advice which failed paid upfront commissions, compared to alternative payment structures;

*       instances of advisers earning up front commissions in excess of $18,000 and premiums that completely eroded the client’s own super contributions;

*       inappropriate scoping of advice to exclude circumstances which would have reasonably lead to lower levels of cover (and commissions for advisers)

“The report confirms there is a systemic failure which should ring serious alarm bells for our law makers. There is now a clear pattern demonstrating that sales-based advice is costing consumers dearly,” said Mr Whiteley.

“Life insurance, like superannuation, is a major investment that people make to protect their livelihoods and families. The community is right to be dismayed by the removal of consumer protections at the same time as the financial advice industry is mired in scandal.

“Following this report, it is beyond belief that anyone would persist with the newly created FoFA loopholes which permit front end loaded sales incentives, bonus structures, and commissions on execution services on simple and complex financial products alike.

“If anything the report suggests that the original FoFA laws did not go far enough. While advice outcomes improved post FoFA (the ‘pass’ rate increased from 59% to 67%), a failure rate of one in three pieces of advice post FoFA is completely unacceptable.”

The report not only exposes the detrimental outcomes for consumers arising from sales based advice but also clearly points to the risks that will arise from the changes to the Best Interest Duty, and scoping of advice including the inadequacy of S 961J to protect clients’ interests.

“The only logical response to this report is to extend the ban on commissions to include those paid on individual risk policies inside and outside super, and to withdraw from parliament the wind-back of FoFA until at least after the Financial System Inquiry has issued its final report,” Mr Whiteley concluded.


Palmer party finished in Qld: analyst

CLIVE Palmer's fledgling political party is effectively dead in its home state, with Queensland MP Carl Judge's resignation the final nail in its coffin.

THAT'S the view of political pundits, who say the Palmer United Party (PUP) will fail dismally at the next state election following the resignation of its last sitting member in Queensland parliament.
Dr Alex Douglas, the party's former state leader, handed the mantle to Mr Judge after he resigned from PUP two months ago alleging a party culture of "jobs for the boys" and a lack of democracy in preselections.

Mr Judge, the only remaining PUP MP in state politics, left on more amicable terms, citing a party focus on federal politics and too many distracting side issues.

Griffith University political analyst Paul Williams said six months ago, he would have tipped PUP to gain one or two seats, but there was now next to no chance for the party of having any representation at all after the next poll.

"This is the beginning of the end," Dr Williams told AAP.

"It might even be the middle of the end - the beginning of the end might have been a few months ago."

Dr Williams said things started going downhill for Mr Palmer's party after the federal MP made extraordinary claims on live television in August that the Chinese government were "mongrels" and "bastards" who shoot their own people.

Mr Judge said he could better serve his Brisbane electorate of Yeerongpilly as an independent, without the party's distractions.

In fact, if he stayed with PUP, he would have been pitted against Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie in an almost futile contest for Kawana on the Sunshine Coast.

Mr Judge singled out PUP Senator Jackie Lambie's controversial comments on banning burqas in Australia as one of the key distractions that convinced him to turn his back on the party.

"The way that Jackie Lambie phrased it was inflammatory and unacceptable in my view," he said.

He also had a stab at people working behind the scenes in political parties.

"What we're seeing is faceless people behind political parties driving a political agenda rather than a public agenda," he said.

Mr Palmer said he wished Mr Judge well in Yeerongpilly.

But he couldn't help a veiled swipe, saying Mr Judge was only "standing in" as leader and his party needs "a real leader able to deliver results for Queenslanders".

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney was already talking about PUP in the past tense on Thursday.

"The Palmer Party was never going to contribute anything to our task of getting Queensland back on track - finding the jobs and building the infrastructure and paying down the debt," he told reporters.

Mr Palmer plans to announce his party's new state leader late next week when he unveils PUP candidates for the election.


WA govt slashes 1500 public sector jobs

THE opposition has accused the West Australian premier of child-like petulance in the face of budget woes that will see 1500 public service jobs slashed.

THE voluntary redundancies are part of a range of measures announced by the WA government on Thursday aimed at saving $2 billion over the next four years.

Government agencies will be expected to do more with less as an additional one per cent efficiency dividend is introduced, although schools have been spared.

Synergy, the Water Corporation and LandCorp will also face a 10 per cent per annum reduction in their operating subsidy payments, but Treasurer Mike Nahan said it would not effect household bills.

While the WA government projected a $175 million surplus for 2014/15, it now concedes a deficit could be on the cards.

Dr Nahan also flagged more belt-tightening to come in the economic mid-year review in December and in next year's budget.

Premier Colin Barnett said he was frustrated at having to take such steps, as the state struggled with lower revenue due to a sharp decline in the iron ore price and a fall in WA's GST share.

"We can deal with the iron ore price fall by itself, or we could probably deal with the GST fall by itself, but we can't deal with both together," he said on Thursday.

"I am just becoming extremely frustrated that the strongest, hardest working part of the Australian economy is being held back for poor reasons."

But opposition treasury spokesman Ben Wyatt said Mr Barnett had no one but himself to blame for spending outside the state's budget while relying on a volatile revenue base.

"In respect to Mr Barnett's anger, I equate it to something like my four-year-old angry at me when I confiscate her paint after she's painted my living room walls," Mr Wyatt said.

"The only difference being my four-year-old takes more responsibility than Mr Barnett has appeared to have done this morning."

Community and Public Sector Union WA secretary Toni Walkington said getting rid of experienced employees in the public service was not addressing the problems of fiscal mismanagement.

Ms Walkington, also the WA secretary for the Civil Service Association, said vanity infrastructure projects were driving the biggest increase in government expenditure with "other operating costs" making up a quarter of total expenses, up 14.2 per cent from 2008.

Another public sector union, United Voice, said the efficiency dividend would cost WA Health and state hospitals an "unacceptable" $80 million.

However, WA's Chamber of Commerce and Industry said reducing government spending rather than increasing taxes was "exactly the right approach".

Federal finance minister Mathias Cormann has repeatedly said there would be no changes to the GST carve-up in this term of government.


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