September 6, 2013
Censorship but not as we know it
But I cannot keep quiet in the light of the 'banning' from commercial airways of a short video produced by GetUp Australia. It criticises the News Corporation Australia's political bias being presented as news. The film takes as an example the Courier Mail's front page (above) following a leaders' debate, during which Tony Abbott interrupted one of Kevin Rudd's responses with ' Does this guy ever shut up?'
GetUp used money donated by supporters to fund the film. Especially during this election campaign, many people – political commentators, talkback radio listeners, lobby groups and fringe media journos – have bemoaned the fact that a media group that dominates the market to the extent that Murdoch's does, and so blatantly supports one political party while dissing the other, reduces the options and saps the confidence of others to dissent. Democracy is thus diminished.
Brisbane's Channel Nine aired the video but then dropped it; Channels Seven and Ten refused from the outset to run the ad. Excuses ranged from not wishing to criticise another media organisations to technical glitches to the potential for offence to viewers – the actor in the video uses the Courier Mail to pick up his dog's doo-doos off his lawn. I find that last one particularly hard to believe, given the huge numbers of Australians who own at least two dogs.
Of course, no one was allowed to screen it after midnight on Wednesday when a blanket ban on election advertising came into force. In theory, the ban may be a good thing, yet Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was still releasing major policy information the following day. The electorate have been waiting all year to know how the LNP will fund their election promises and balance the national budget, and between two and three million have already voted, without knowledge of these crucial figures. Which doesn't seem right to me.
A year or so ago, a series of ads was shown in my local cinema before the main feature. One showed young, politically correctly chosen people carrying out valuable environmental projects, such as constructing and maintaining protective compounds for endangered species. Only at the end were you aware that the ads were produced by Australian Mining. The series was called This is our story, a hugely deceptive title since the films showed an extremely small and unrepresentative part of the industry's story. Unfortunately, I'd paid to see a different film and couldn't reach for the remote and the mute or off button. I felt trapped; as if I was being force-fed propaganda; it was not a nice feeling.
I feel similarly disturbed this week. I posted a link to GetUp's video on Facebook in the hope that some of those people denied their rights by certain tv channels might take a look. A few of my friends reported difficulty accessing it. If you weren't able to see it, here it is.