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Aunty won’t be pleased!

Memo to Janet Albrechtsen: Congratulations on getting on the board of the ABC. As the Bible says, many are called but few are chosen and, although many of us fancy ourselves on the board of the ABC, you actually made it.

But get ready for the backlash. Your appointment will cause a real stir in the ranks of the intelligentsia. I can already hear the irate rattle of spoons in a thousand caffe lattes up and down the east coast as the inevitable rage builds up to tsunami-like proportions. I can tell you now: the luvvies and the bleeding hearts won't like it; the ABC is theirs and you - a columnist on this page - are definitely not one of them.

So if I were you, I'd do a Latham - have a few days off at a beach resort, lie low until the dust settles and come back refreshed next month for your first board meeting. But while you are away, put the time to good use and reflect on a few points about the ABC. Here, based on my experience, are a few of them:

Point 1. Don't take any notice of the criticism of your appointment. What will really send the Left into orbit, especially the rich, which is now most of them, is the very audacity of putting someone like you on the board. You might have thought the ABC was there to promote competing and balanced views. You might have thought the job of the board was to make sure that this happened. Not so.

Through years of neglect and letting them get away with it, there are now approved ABC opinions and disapproved opinions. The function of the ABC is clearly to push the former and denigrate the latter. The function of the board is - or has been - to turn a blind eye to this and do nothing to encourage a balanced view.

So the official ABC position is, first of all, against anything American. That goes without saying, for the US is successful and promotes individualism, investment and private enterprise. For the ABC, these are anathema and have to be fought at every turn.

Then, in a bizarre sort of way, the public broadcaster is also against anything that looks like freedom. The Left and their handmaidens (not only in the ABC) seem more sympathetic to anti-American dictatorial regimes than putting their hopes in democracy, for democracies might elect pro-American governments.

Little surprise, then, that the ABC has opposed the war in Iraq at every step, gloated over every setback and magnified every criticism from any malcontent and misfit it can find. Little surprise, either, that it never misses a chance to abuse Israel, a democracy, while the Palestinian cause can do no wrong.

Moreover, on the ABC, all industry is bad, all chemicals are poisonous, all wilderness is pristine, all animals are gentle, all business is evil and all government a conspiracy. Frankly, I couldn't care less whether they are right or wrong. All I want is some balance and that is what we have not been getting.

So, your mission on the board: insist on there being some balance.

Point 2. New programs might be a good place to start. How about a program on things we can be proud of, our great achievements, our European history and leaders, our institutions, our traditions in peace and war.

I know this is a radical plan for the ABC, where denigration is its second name, but it would be a great memorial to leave behind at the end of your term, that you actually got the ABC to be proud of something ... anything.

Point 3. Do try to do something about Classic FM. When it started, this was supposed to be an all-music station, but look at it now, or rather, listen to it. I was one of the few who protested about taking music off what is now Radio National. Now, instead of the classics we have Phillip Adams. No wonder the ratings are so low that there is only one station under it; the so-called News Radio.

The big defence was that Classic FM would be wall-to-wall classical music. And so it was, for a week or so. Now it is wall-to-wall talk, complete with commercials and endless promos. Now, the station cannot even play a CD without an introduction that is almost as long as the music.

Some announcers seem to think the station is a private club where they can air their own opinions on rival recordings, give endless explanations and prattle on to each other about what Mozart said to his grandmother in the coach to Vienna or indeed about anything else -- except playing the music. What is worse, great slabs of time have been ruled out of bounds for music and given over to people such as Margaret Throsby interviewing one broken down social worker after another on their pet hatreds.

Point 4. Finally, the ABC is supposed to be good on news. Oh, really? I would like to know where it is because the TV news is now down to 10 minutes or so before the sport comes on. Even sport has been destroyed by the crazy scheme to cover it nationally, so the poor, uncomfortable announcer looks as if he is talking about some strange game played on Mars. I do hope you can get the ABC back to at least one basic truth: sport is local.

As for the news being current, there seem to be endless replays throughout the day and night of exactly the same bulletin. Does the world stop for the ABC overnight?

There is news on the ABC, of course. Now that it has yet another station to play with, News Radio, it is virtually impossible to fill in all the time. So at least we can listen to the Dutch, the Germans and National Public Radio from the US who are used as filling.

Come to think of it, I don't know why I am giving you this free advice. In a black sort of way, I hope your appointment does lead to a strike. Then they will have to broadcast the BBC and, despite all its faults, there should be something worth listening to.

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