Beware the Ides of March, Tony

The revelations surrounding the Prime Minister’s office in this week’s Weekend Australian are politically disastrous for the government, and, in particularly, for Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Respected journalist John Lyons’ thoroughly-researched and highly-damaging article indicates a coalition government in complete disarray and lacking credibility after just 18 months in office.

It’s not hard to come to the conclusion that Tony Abbott is already a ‘dead man walking’, unless he can pull a couple of rabbits out of his hat almost immediately.

So, why are we talking about politics here on Radio Today.

It’s because of a major issue that affects this industry and millions of radio listeners around the country.

The details were outlined in my article ‘Cry ‘Radio’ and let slip the Dogs of Politics’ last week.

Back-benchers are fed up with the incompetence that seems to endlessly spring from within the hierarchy of the coalition government and they are justifiably concerned as to how those ill-thought out decisions will affect their electoral chances in just another 18 months’ time.

The Prime Minister can, however, start taking the pressure off himself by making small sensible adjustments to various policies that will help put his back-benchers a little more at ease and buy him some time to start getting things right.

One decision that would reverberate around this nation and earn the government the gratitude of many people, who used to listen their local radio stations via the Internet, would be to create an environment that would get those stations back streaming again.

This is a move that is backed by more than 80-percent of coalition members of parliament and senators.

In parliamentary terms, that’s an overwhelming margin.

The process can be completed without delay, but just needs a bold decision from a strong leader to get it moving.

The Labor Party said before the last election that, if returned, they would make this process happen, so given their previous assurance, there should be absolutely no parliamentary resistance.

Once the Prime Minister is convinced that there’s solid political capital to be made from such a move, all he has to do is to instruct Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has been dragging the chain on the issue, to make it happen.

I outlined the process in detail in last week’s article.

This political move would simply restore the status quo as it existed before 2013, and, calm everyone down.

So, why should the simultaneous streaming of radio and the PPCA Copyright Tribunal case, which is scheduled to start next month, be of any interest to you just because you work in the radio industry?

Most industry people probably think it’s an owners’ problem and say ’so, that’s not going to affect me, right’? Unfortunately, that’s not the case!

If the Prime Minister or Communications Minister don’t provide a political solution and cut this issue off at the pass, and, PPCA wins its full claim, the likely impact on radio, particularly the large metro networks in competitive markets that are forced to stream to stay in the game, could well see the industry being unable to maintain current levels of employment or to be reluctant to adapt to new technologies for fear of further claims.

A music industry proponent, writing last week on Radio Today, suggested that the reason for the current claim against commercial radio is that the music industry’s primary business model has collapsed; people aren’t buying CD’s anymore, and, so somebody has to pay.

While this is certainly not a problem of radio’s making, the consultant intimates the foreign-owned music companies have decided that the best way to increase their revenues is to turn on the industry that not only provides them with free promotion for their product, but is actually also currently paying for that privilege in its broadcast rights.

The article suggested that the music industry and radio have had a long term friendship going back many decades.

If that’s right, then with friends like that who needs enemies?

The issue for radio has become a case of ‘Et tu, Brute’!

About The Author:

Brad SMART has been a journalist, consultant, author, broadcaster, film director and was the former owner of the Smart Radio Network throughout Queensland. Brad can be contacted on email here.  

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