ABC Managing Director Mark Scott has created quite the stir with his A. N. Smith Memorial Lecture in Melbourne last night. Scott took a pot shot at Rupert Murdoch, characterising him as a “frantic emperor”. Decline and fall of old media empires, and all that.
As Jason Wilson observed yesterday in New Matilda, Murdoch’s previous business plays were built on positioning himself for oligopolistic market shares in emerging media. This strategy doesn’t work in the world of online content, so Murdoch is trying to reshape that world to suit his modus operandi. Cutting public broadcasters out of the equation would be an essential component of such a strategy, but despite the fact that he’s leveraged political influence in the past for his own private interests, Murdoch finds himself isolated. Gordon Brown, Barack Obama and Kevin Rudd are hardly likely to do him any favours, and the very fragmentation of audiences and platforms he’s seeking to counter has reduced any potential for his implicit political threats to have teeth.
Public broadcasters, in other words, have a unique role to play in preserving the openess and competitiveness of new media ecologies.
There’s been lots of commentary on Scott’s speech. Margaret Simons writes at Content Makers, Gary Sauer-Thompson chimes in at Public Opinion, while Ethical Martini and Trevor Cook both put somewhat different and interesting perspectives to work in analysing Scott’s lecture.
Update: Guy Rundle.
Update: Sophie Cunningham.
Update: More from Margaret Simons in today’s Crikey.
Update: Ben Eltham in New Matilda:
As I watched Scott’s speech and the ensuing questions, I began to get a sense of how clueless many media executives really are. I’m fairly certain Scott knows more about this stuff than, for example, Roger Corbett does. In fact, Scott pointed this out later in his speech, arguing that old thinking and internal barriers to reform are the biggest problems for media organisations. “We have seen the enemy, and it is us.”
If Scott is among the savviest — and he may well be — then the path ahead for big media organisations in this country will be rocky indeed.
In the land of the blind, the man with a print-out of a Clay Shirky blog is king.