|Issue No 39||12 November 1999|
His Master’s Voice
Piers Akerman launched a scathing attack on the Howard Government this week. You read correctly. Piers Akerman launched a scathing attack on the Howard Government this week.
It's such a novel concept, it has an almost mystical quality. You want to correct yourself and say, this can't be right but there it is in black and white. Piers Akerman launching a scathing attack on the Howard Government. One more time for those who missed it. Piers bagged Howard.
What's going on? A divine conversion from pride and prejudice to sense and sensibility? A sudden revelation into the Dark Heart of the conservative regime? A backlash against the cynical manipulation of the Republic referendum?
Nothing so principled. Piers was just weighing in to what is emerging as one of the more interesting media battles of recent years.
At the centre of it is Piers' boss Rupert Murdoch and his determination to get access to the new digital technology, otherwise known as Web-TV.
Web-TV is poised to revolutionise television as we know it; users will be able to click and choice [choose] what they want, when they want it. The notion of television programming will change fundamentally.
Media operators know this and are desperate for a piece of the action. In one camp are the established TV networks, who argue access to the new technology should be limited to existing broadcasters - at least for a lengthy transition period. In the other are aspirant players like Murdoch's News Ltd, who fear that they could be left behind with PayTV interest that could be soon left irrelevant.
Howard has been left with the unsavoury choice of choosing between the interests of Packer and Murdoch. At this stage, they're going with Packer, which has seen the Murdoch clan take on a decidedly hostile stance against the Government.
You might have noticed Rupert and Lachlan both sticking their Doc Martens into the Republic debate. It got deliciously personal at times.
Now it's Piers' turn, ripping into a report commissioned by the commercial stations by Liberal pin-up boy Mark Textor. He's the guy who adapted US-style wedge politics for the 1996 election and advised Peter Reith on how to manipulate public opinion against the wharfies before he launched his assault on the MUA.
Pity the same scrutiny wasn't given to his earlier work; because if Piers' extracts are anything to go by, the research is just as facile. According to Piers, the researchers conclude that datacaster, as opposed to current broadcasting is "not conducive to togetherness".
This provides the pitch to what is possible Piers' best line of the year: "So for the most part is masturbation, which is what this sort of research most closely resembles".
The point of all this is not to agree with Piers (heavens forbid!), but to highlight how even the Prime Ministers' man can be transformed into his harshest critic when his bosses interests are effected. It's hard to argue with Piers' arguments on this one, it's just that his motivations are so damn transparent.
It should be interesting to chart the invective as the debate hots up: mogul against mogul, with a reactionary leader in the centre, not sure who to react to.
Interview: Let Sleeping Dogs
Republican campaigner Jason Yat-Sen Li dusts off after Saturday’s vote. We ask him: where to now?
Republic: Readers Speak - Kerry the Face to Deface
We asked and you have spoken; Sydney heiress Kerry Jones is the Workers Online choice for desktop doodling, as the official winner of our Defacement of a Nation competition.
Economics: Understanding the Economy
Who was voted thinker of the millenium in a recent BBC Online poll? Karl Marx shooed it in. And another socialist, Albert Einsten, came second.
Unions: Come Fly Away!
With just four weeks to go, Labor Council's Organiser of the year Award is up for grabs. We've only had the one entry ...
Work/Time/Life: Better Times for Casuals in the Sunshine State
The Queensland Council of Unions has mounted a case in the Queensland IRC to increase wages for casual workers by up to $2.00 extra per hour.
International: All Black Fate Looms for New Zealand Right
The New Zealand economic experiment – for many years the cherished role model of the Australian Liberal Party – is just about to face an angry jury.
History: Who Remembers Egon Erwin Kisch?
Egon Erwin Kisch was a well known progressive journalist living in Germany when he was invited by the Australian branch of the world committee against war and fascism to speak at a conference in Melbourne in 1934.
Review: Bizarrism - Strange Lives, Cults, Celebrated Lunacy
The strange story of Donald Crowhurst or how to cheat and become a God.
Satire: Support Surges for Armenian Republic Model
The assassination by gun crazed extremists of the Armenian Prime Minister has been cautiously backed by Ted Mack and the Direct Electionist lobby as a possible new Republican model.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005