NBN on Media Watch tonight


hey everyone,

just a brief note to let everyone know that media coverage of the National Broadband Network is expected to be featured on Media Watch tonight, with a focus on the recent articles of ABC Technology + Games Editor Nick Ross and the controversy last week surrounding them.

I would encourage all readers who have a view of this issue to contact Media Watch directly and make their opinion or analysis of the situation known. Their details are mediawatch@your.abc.net.au, or they also have a telephone line, which is 02 8333 4454.

Cheers, and happy Monday,



        • I just got a reply:

          “Thanks for your email, Derek.

          Appreciate your thoughts about the coverage of the NBN. Please let us know about any particular reporting that you think we should check out.

          Look forward to hearing what you think of tonight’s show.

          Sally Virgoe – MW”

          • Just watched the show on iView and here is my response to Media watch:

            “Hi Sally, I was very dissapointed in your story last night on Nicks NBN reporting – Graeme Lynch is not representative of the ICT Industry and is generally disregarded (many would say despised) by all but a very small number of folk who believe in Neo-classical economics to exclusion of everything else (ie. the market will provide everything, gov hands off unless you are giving us subsidies to do something we deem unworthy of our own investment dollars).

            Grahame Lynch has been opposed to every aspect of the NBN from day one and frankly to use someone as clearly biased as he is for “balance” is very disturbing – the size of his paid readership is a great indicator of the quality of his “journalism”. He has admitted in public that only 1500 ppl pay for access to his site, this is such a tiny unrepresentative fraction of the ICT industry that it beggars belief that any self respecting media organisation would use him to provide them with any information!

            Unfortunately it seems lately that journalism in Australia has gone to hell and Media Watch seems to be ignoring the worst aspects of it – using someone like Graeme Lynch (or Kevin Morgan) to provide “balance” in an ICT story is like inviting a Homeopath to discuss Neurosurgery or an anti-immunization crank to discuss why 99.99% of the Aussie population have never seen a Polio sufferer!

            The simple fact is that the NBN is a technical topic that requires specialist knowledge (which Nick Ross has) and objectivity to provide an accurate analysis of the the competing policies. Those of us with technical backgrounds in the ICT industry are horrified at the lies and misinformation with is being peddled by Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, Kevin Morgan and Graeme Lynch and then regurgitated by the News Ltd Media who fear for their future under a real NBN (just look at how much money newspapers are bleeding already)!

            Nick Ross, Renai Lemay and a few others have exposed this misinformation for what it is! It is very rare in the Technology world for there to be more than one “optimal answer” – as any good Business Analyst will tell you there may be multiple ways to do something but there will always be one solution with more “Pro’s” than the others. That solution might even cost more in the short term but the long term ROI, System Life cycle and productivity benefits will out way the cons.

            Just have a read of what Industry Giants like IBM have to say about the potential of the NBN:


            and what Cisco have projected Australias network traffic growth to be:


            and then look at the hundreds of millions in investments being made in Australia by Industry Giants like HP in new DataCenter’s to support Aussie business using the NBN:


            Apologies for my rant but the NBN is crucial for the next 50 years of economic growth for so many reasons and band-aiding a rotting copper network is not the way forward for Australia!

            Regards Derek”

            It’ll be very interesting if I get any meaningful response. (not holding my breath tho)

          • Lol, I appreciate the sentiment chaps but im no wordsmith.

            I’ll certainly let you know if I get a meaningful response tho. :-)

    • More to the point: will it be available for those of us on Android & therefore unable to access iview? That’s only half the Australian mobile market, last I heard…

      • Unlike iPhones, Android devices have this magical thing called Flash. iView works fine accessing it as per normal.

        • New Androids don’t have Flash installed. I certainly don’t want it on my phone thank you.

        • quote: “Unlike iPhones, Android devices have this magical thing called Flash. iView works fine accessing it as per normal”.

          Not really. Yes, it works in the sense that you can mostly get the content to play, but it’s a total bitch to navigate the site as the Flash content gobbles up your screen touch inputs, making navigation almost useless.

          Furthermore, the ABC Android app is appallingly bad (on my Galaxy Note 2). The News24 stream plays ok initially, but as soon as you move your phone and the orientation goes from landscape to portrait (or vice versa), you get this annoying ‘Loading’ popup message plastered in the middle of the screen which never goes away! It just sits there even while the stream plays in the background. After months, this still hasn’t been fixed – pathetic effort!

    • The Mediawatch website also makes its episodes available for download usually immediately after broadcast in the eastern states. Quality isn’t spectacular, but it doesn’t really need to be.

  1. In case this may prove useful to readers in making their own submissions, this is my broad view of the situation.

    My opinion is that the Opposition and segments of the media are waging a constant campaign of
    misinformation against the NBN in order to discredit it. The situation is not dissimilar to the climate change debate, where segments of politics and the media are constantly repeating inaccurate ‘facts’ despite evidence being against them.

    In this context, Nick’s articles represent an attempt to directly serve the community by ‘correcting the record’ and going back to basics to examine the real technical, financial and societal underpinnings of the NBN technology. As with the climate change debate, however, unfortunately there is no evidence that some elements of the community will accept. This comparison has actually already popped up in the NBN debate — see here:


    Some examples of the Coalition’s misstatements in this area:


    Examples of articles in the mainstream media which have taken a strongly misleading approach to the NBN:


    I strongly believe that Media Watch would be better served by investigating the other side of the story: Those criticising the NBN. Investigating Nick’s articles is a bit like investigating scientists rather than climate change deniers ;)


    • Wow Renai…

      I liked Nick Ross’ article but it’s like you’re suggesting he didn’t write opinionated commentary, which is garbage. To suggest that his article wasn’t biased is an insult to anybody’s intelligence. It’s fine, because it was an editorial, and still BASED on facts. But the conclusions he drew were unquestionably informed by his own beliefs, so MW is right to look into it and compare to ABC policy etc.

      • The only bias I detected in Nick’s articles was a bias towards telling the truth at all costs. And if that is now considered a bias, sign me up immediately.

        • Jonathan Holmes just tweeted this:

          @jonaholmesMW: #mediawatch looking at whether ABC reporters have to be ‘impartial’: analysis good, opinion bad, but how do u tell the difference? @ABCTech

          • For the past two week he’s being using a ABC account as like personal account or place to vent steam

            Only 3-4 weeks ago mediawatch did a similar thing where they highlighted another ABC personality using official twitter to post comments that considered personal views and was investigated

          • Where possible Media Watch should not get involved in technical debated over the NBN. That tweet suggests the angle that MW will cover will probably be whether an online editor constitutes a journalist.

            If Nick Ross is a journalist then his article (http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2013/02/21/3695094.htm), in my opinion, clearly fails ABC editorial standards.

            For example, he argues that telecommunications should be in government hands even though that goes against Labor reforms of the 80’s and 90’s. That is a political debate. He should have interviewed Turnbull and Conroy, allowed them to present their case on the role of government in telecommunications infrastructure and then let the readers decide.

          • Those are Just Simon Hackett comments just republished a dozon of times and even simon borrowed it from someone else

  2. Is it Nick’s article that is coming under scrutiny? Or the Coalition (and their media puppies) attempts to discredit it?

    If its the latter, then that’s a show well worth watching. If its the former, then I’d agree with Renai, it is very similar to climate change scientists being investigated rather than the deniers.

    If it’s the former situation, then I’d suggest that Media Watch itself can be considered compromised, by attempting to provide “balance” when there’s not a lot of that to be found in the NBN arena (and to be fair, it’s hard to balance the current NBN with the Coalition’s policy, whatever it is, due to lack of information).

    I cannot accept in this regard that there are two equal sides to this story, simply because the Coalition, for all their criticism, cannot BACK THEMSELVES UP. They’d have a much easier time if they could (back them up), but simply trotting out Kevin Morgan, Henry Ergas and Graham Lynch as “experts”, tied with News Limited propaganda reports full of conjecture and opinion isn’t really helping their credibility to present an alternative to the existing NBN policy.

    • This concerns me too as Holmes effectively went into bat for ABC management over the Faine affair and actually compared him demanding evidence from the two Noise Ltd journos with Alan Jones bullying a climate scientist!

  3. My email

    “Hi Media watch

    It has been brought to my attention that you will be discussing recent issues in regard to NBN reporting.

    May I suggest that, if it is your intention, you do not focus on what Nick Ross’s piece was about, as it was a well put together and researched comparison of the two offerings and don’t forget all the LNP are saying is faster, cheaper, quicker no real facts or details. In light of the lack of real facts from the LNP his job was obviously difficult.

    I believe you should actually look at the way the MSM attacks the current NBN and why (who owns 80% of the MSM and has something to lose in his vested interest). They never provide any objectivity or balance just straight out attack it at any level.

    You might like to read this piece http://cafewhispers.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/revealed-the-media-conspiracy-against-the-government/

    I think what Nick created was well investigated from a technical perspective with the little information he had available from alternative FTTN option.

    Look forward to watching the show.”

    Wonder if I will get a reply??

    • You’ll get an email that says:

      “Thanks for your email, Andy.

      Appreciate your thoughts about the NBN coverage…please let us know if you notice any reporting that you think we should check out.”

      • Yep similar.

        “Thanks for your email, Andrew.

        Yes, please let us know what you think of tonight’s show.

        Appreciate you contacting us.

        Sally Virgoe -MW”

    • I think Nick ross Article isn’t the only thing media watch will be focusing on. What Nick does bring to attention is how the media is taking a quite a conservative view and presenting “Labor spending alot of money. Liberal have a solution”

      News Ltd has taken a Liberal Party view. You can only look at the recent state election to know most stories were focused on beatup on the Labor party, Everything the liberal did was painted in gold and the bad policy weren’t discussed

  4. I am sorry, but unfortunately I have lost the ability to take Mark Scott’s ABC with the measure of trust in impartiality as I used to. I still trust the underlying journalistic integrity of some of the ABC Journalists, but I do know what it is like, when as an employee, you are ordered to tow the official management line, no matter how incorrect, against everything you know as being correct.
    Yep, you feel dirty and compromised, but in the end we have bills to pay in order to hold up a Fractional Banking System in which, like it or not, we are all enslaved to. It is simply holding destitution at bay for all of us. Most of us are in a situation that our employment is the only thing between us on the street or in our home. No one can tar and feather the poor messenger for avoiding that. That is the way of our world that we, ourselves, have created.
    Tonight will be the obvious litmus test for Media Watch. But if it rolls out a “We believe the Coalition has a strong argument against the NBN”, or they sit on the fence, that will speak volumes of how deep the rot has become at the ABC.
    Old media has become the fertile ground for Goebbels style propaganda with a distinct inability to deal with neither criticism nor dissent. Matter of fact, it can no longer tolerate Democracy, which amazingly is quite brazen about, as it promotes its own version of Plutocracy, which they ludicrously call Democracy. Perception is everything in holding up a lie.
    It is very obvious we are still a herd animal when others can use our own psychology so easily against us for their own profit. As such, I will be watching this program very closely.

  5. Off topic but I was just wondering…
    We just had our state election here in the West, with Liberal taking a majority (and more) of the seats, can they do anything (by state) to revise the NBN here?

  6. After whats happened in QLD and NT I have no idea how they got into WA. Now the bets are on how many people will be without jobs in WA, there should be no doubt that there will be job losses. Retail will see a fall shortly after that, then it just get worse from there. Maybe they didn’t hear what happen on the other side of the country, or maybe it’s still buffering.

    • They were the incumbent in WA, and from the perspective of most of the voters, have been doing a reasonably good job, as WA is doing well at the moment.

      Colin Barnett has been premier since 2008, The actions of newer Liberal administrations in eastern states have no reason to figure in voters’ decisions here.

      • Liberal party knows people hate labor. So they use that to blind people into being elected and then don’t tell anyone about how they will slash budgets/jobs

      • Correct, but I suspect we will see a harsh decline in the economy shortly and I’m not sure LNP have the wits about them at the moment get through it. Only time will tell.

        Watched the show: was interesting. Shame they will not enter into the debate in whole. MT’s miss guided and often out right lies seem, to me a least, more important the Nick’s article. Especially when those lies are passed directly through The Australian; without any fact checking done at all. But they would rather report about how Ross followed just about every rule set by the ABC except for some slight, but founded, advocacy.

  7. I hope they focus on why Nick needed to create such an article. It’s clear that the misinformation is getting to such a point that it’s leading to frustration for those that can plainly see the benefits and wade through the FUD.

    Hopefully this will lead to an expose on the FUD and lies being pedalled so far and to put the MSM on notice that people are aware of it and that it won’t be tolerated. I don’t expect this though.

  8. just a thought Renai, but you might like to put what time the show airs for those who might be interested in watching, but who don’t watch it frequently enough to know when it normally airs.

  9. Hmmm, interesting MediaWatch.

    I’m not sure I can disagree with it. Those guidelines for analysis by the ABC are quite clear and he has put a toe over them at least.

    Saying that, I don’t believe that either Grahame Lynch OR Kevin Morgan for a moment are better. While Ross seems to have stepped over the line once or twice and been, rightfully or wrongfully, “chatted” to, Lynch and Morgan have no such compulsions. They are, unquestionably, against the idea of the NBN. They accuse Nick of being utterly biased towards the NBN and therefore failing in his job as a public servant. Well, if Nick’s over the line comment on the likelihood of a Labor win because of public knowledge on the NBN means he’s biased….then I’m afraid Lynch and Morgan are looking at an ever diminishing line of balanced journalism disappearing in their rear-view mirrors….

    Lynch and Morgan are part of private journalism which they believe means they are inherently protected from bias, because their “readers” do not need balanced reporting, only the facts which are relevant to them. Ross on the other hand has the unenviable difficulty of maintaining an analytical approach regardless of the fact that 80% of the reporting ON the NBN is quite often grossly misleading. He makes mistakes. The vehemence with which Lynch, Morgan and Turnbull have dogged him over these mistakes only makes it clear to me that they cannot fight the arguments, only the legitimacy of those who give them.

    • I’d say I’d have to agree with what they said. It is a shame they didn’t look into the accuracy of information and rebutals by Lynch et al. That is a little beyond media watch’s scope however.
      They did point out however that his decision was based on his research, however they were lessened a little by a few comments Nick had made regards Labor.

    • Yep. I think Nick stepped over the ‘advocacy’ line in his article, as I mentioned in the “persecution” comments. That’s something Nick needs to think about but I hope it doesn’t stop him doing what he’s doing.

      Nick and Paul Budde have been trying to broaden the NBN discussion beyond faster internet connections for a while now. I think it is vitally important for the NBN that this happens. I hope this ‘slap on the wrist’ doesn’t diminish Nick’s efforts in this regard.

      If you’re reading Nick, keep up the good work.

      • @CMOT

        That article he stepped over the advocacy line WASN’T his one 2 weeks ago. It was the Great NBN Fail over a year ago:


        About 4 paragraphs down.

        His most recent article WASN’T advocationary….I’m not sure that’s a word….but it is now….it was simply pointing out evidence, conclusions based on that evidence and the sources OF that evidence. THAT is why Renai has taken up this approach- he’s criticised Nick in the past and rightly so it appears. It was certainly clear on that article a year ago he crossed the line. But Lynch, Morgan et al. were talking about THIS article. And this article DOESN’T cross that line.

        • I don’t believe Nick was ‘spoken to’ about advocacy a year ago. Why wait until now?

          There are aspects of advocacy in his recent article. At least one of the ‘conclusions’ in the article is so far off it can’t be anything else. I think he needs to be a bit more careful with the conclusions he draws from the evidence he presents. I just hope he continues to present the evidence.

          I believe Nick has been ‘spoken to’ about recent behaviour. That includes the article in question. Why else mention it on Mediawatch? I can’t prove it of course, but that’s what I believe. You believe whatever you like and we’ll agree to disagree.

          • “Why else cover it on Media Watch”? Because Nick was “spoken to” not “disciplined” as the Oz reported.

          • It was about Nick’s recent behaviour.

            Jonathan Holmes wrote on the comments page of the relevant MW episode:

            “the primary motivation for the piece was (a) Ross’s behaviour at the Kickstart conference, which raised a lot of eyebrows, and (b) his long essay and the reaction to it from other experienced ABC journos.”

            Note: The Kickstart conference was Feb of this year.

  10. Watched with my wife. We were both disappointed at the conclusion. It seemed to be saying that journos from the ABC had better not criticise politicians (even when they’re wrong), or there will be Consequences…

    • What stuck out in my mind was the judgment (by the media watch presenter) that Nick Ross breached two parts of the ABC guidance note, which states that analysis:

      (1) refrains from public advocacy

      (2) does not prescribe what should be done nor urge what the audience should conclude.

      Having a quick look through Nick Ross’ article, I can’t actually see where he’s breached these guidelines (though please correct me if I’m wrong). The strongest statement I could find is in the last sentence of the third para, which reads: “In just about every case the Coalition’s alternative compares unfavourably to the current plans – and usually in dramatic fashion.”

      I can’t see anyone could construe that the above assertion is either public advocacy, prescribes action or urges the reader to draw a particular conclusion. Rather, it is an assertion based on a robust analysis of the available facts.

      Isn’t this what we should consider ‘good journalism’? It’s certainly more informative than the current lazy, cop-out rubbish that passes for journalism these days. The sort of rubbish which consists of pretending that both sides of the argument have equal merit, even if they clearly do not (in view of the facts). Only morons or the intellectually lazy take the approach that the truth is ‘always somewhere in the middle’. This kind of idiot reasoning leads one to conclude that the earth is a squished oblong because some argue it is round whereas others argue that it is flat.

  11. What is and isn’t advocacy is quite a grey area. If you analyse the facts and come up with the conclusion that one policy is terrible, that arguably is advocacy but I don’t think that’s what the guidance note means. It is after all just guidance not specific rules.

    I think Jonathan Holmes’ conclusion was more that maybe Ross has shown advocacy in the past and needs to be careful. Perhaps it has to be deliberate advocacy to be a real problem, rather than just the implied knock-on effect of comparing policies and highlighting the flaws and strengths.

    There are a couple of other interesting parts of the guidance note:
    “Tone –
    E.g., is it one of explanation and reasoned argument, or of assertion and pronouncement? Does it indicate an awareness of the doubt that complexity engenders, or does it instruct with an air of certainty?
    Presentation –
    E.g., does the treatment of the piece indicate that the ABC intends it to be understood as analysis rather than news or opinion, such as through placement and signposting, including position of the piece in a program or on a website, nature of intro and outro, overall heading of the webpage, specific heading on the piece? Should the label ‘analysis’ be used in the particular circumstancesof the case, especially borderline cases?”

  12. Just watched on iView, and Media Watch’s conclusions about Nick’s journalism probably seemed fair on the surface to most viewers, but only to people not educated about the the coalitions’s continuously misleading claims. Nick has gone out of his way to make his analysis evidence-based, but doing so probably does look like “bias” to anyone that doesn’t get just how inferior Turnbull’s vague plans for broadband actually are.

    I did like the way they at least gave good airtime to Delimiter’s views, and that MediaWatch at least touched on the idea of “he said/she said” journalism being rubbish, as is so often the case (I believe Renai pointed out his disdain for this style of journalism onlyba couple of days ago too). Working for a public broadcaster must be infuriating at times, when you are in possession of the facts, but are still forced to write some drivel you know to be crap, as an opposing view. This will probably be the case for Nick from now after his “chat” with management. Although ABC did at least say they were confident his report was fact based, it sounds like he’ll be forced to include more critical opinions from now on.

    Likening this to the climate debate is a good one Renai. There’s absolutely no point covering the other side of the argument if it has been scientifically proven beyond reasonable doubt that the other side are factually incorrect, not to mention known to deliberately mislead people as a tactic. However the difference being that ABC at least understand climate change, and don’t give equal airtime to opposing views from charlatan idiots like “Lord” Monckton for example, so it’s a shame they can’t take the same approach with the facts about broadband. Doing so unfortunately requires studying the whole situation with scrutiny, and having a good understanding of IT, which no ABC journalist but Nick seems knowledgable enough about, and/or willing enough to do. The fact that the NBN is also a political hotbed makes it easy for opponents to get angry at a journalist who is appearing to take sides, but in reality is just clever enough to have not be fooled by the so claims behind the vague alternative plan, being pitched by Malcolm and co.

    • Yes well said, But i think we need to look at the big picture here, In fact it’s bigger than the NBN and climate change combined, It is about an average Australian’s ability to make a good and truthful interpretation of politics in general.
      Because the truth has been abused for so long now, The general public is actually believing the BS printed and this is influencing the vote! The bitter irony to all this is when after the WA election the press then suggest that it’s because the Julia Gillard Government is toxic? Just one of many things planted in peoples minds by the propaganda peddling papers!The rich minority manipulating the poorly educated majority to do their will, Nothing new i suppose!

  13. “In just about every case the Coalition’s alternative compares unfavourably to the current plans – and usually in dramatic fashion.”

    I would think that rather than attack Nick, this should force those that think differently to balance that argument with their version of the facts to substantiate their views.

    I know and they know they can’t so lets throw the mud. The same old same old from MSM and LNP. Bloody witch hunt!

  14. The only conclusion that I can draw from all this is that The Australian needs to have their own guidelines drilled into their heads before they go about blasting anyone else for “bias”. I’m somewhat dismayed that Media Watch didn’t bother calling them out.

    • The fact they didn’t, spoke with a volume that was deafening! My ears are still ringing and I am deaf!

      • Yep, The Australian’s blatant hypocrisy (and it’s history of factually incorrect NBN reporting) definitely received a free pass on this one from MediaWatch (probably because MediaWatch didn’t entirely refute The Australian’s claims about Nick).

    • Yes but the response you’ll get is that The Australian is owned by a private company who can do whatever they like within the law. They are only answerable to their shareholders and their shareholders only want to know about their profits. If ‘high’ morals made them more money, then they’d have the highest morals you could imagine.

      On the other hand, the ABC is owned by ‘us’ and it is answerable to ‘us’. ‘us’ is comprised of basically 50% on the ‘left’ and 50% on ‘right’. This means that balance has got nothing to do with facts but with presenting both sides of the argument to appease the 2 sides of ‘us’, the taxpayers.

      This argument is so disingenuous that it is comedic in its hypocrisy. Why should the ABC be politically balanced while the private media companies aren’t? What is the logical conclusion of this free market ideology gone mad? I understand the maths, but not the logic. This is ideology for ideology sakes. It makes me angry to hear JJJ play the same commercial crap that gets played on every other radio station, just in aid of ‘balance’. It makes no damn sense. It only serves to protect and monopolise on the success of the ‘winners’. It is NOT in the public good. It limits choice, limits options, limits variety. Ironically, it almost becomes similar to a communist East German supermarket. Just because its popular doesn’t mean its good or right or moral or the best.

      If a society cannot accurately sort fact from fiction, then we have a problem.
      If society values the most popular information vs the most accurate then we have a problem.
      This is not what I say, its what history says.

      We clearly have a problem.

      Here we have someone who is trying their darndest to help with this fact sorting and he is bashed over the head for doing the wrong thing, just because of the vanity of the ABC. This is bigger than the ABC.

      Nick Ross is a hero and the NBN is revolutionary. The NBN is the veins of democracy. Isn’t freedom the heart of western democracy? Or is it the freedom to limit ones freedom? Don’t we go to war and kill those who limit societies freedom?

      You choose and vote accordingly…

    • They have done before. They could do so every week, but soon run out of viewers :-)

  15. Lynch at Commsday, he used him as ‘balance’, thats about as balanced as using Rupert Murdoch in a discussion about bugging dead schoolgirls mobiles…

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