Retiring ABC managing director Mark Scott will fire another rocket at the future of migrant broadcasting on Wednesday when he lays out his economic case for a merger of the nation’s two public broadcasters.
However, Australia’s peak migrant body – the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) – has warned it will move swiftly to kill the idea.
FECCA chair Joe Caputo told The New Daily that neither Mr Scott nor other former ABC managers now agitating for a merger had bothered to consult FECCA about the proposal.
“I don’t think the ABC understands what the word ‘consultation’ means,” Mr Caputo said.
“If this is an indication of how the ABC plans to treat SBS’ stakeholders they really should not bother.
“I don’t think the ABC has shown even an inkling for multi-ethnic broadcasting.”
Mr Caputo said that FECCA would be seeking guarantees from the major political parties that SBS would continue to operate as a stand-alone public broadcaster.
“Now that the merger has been made a public issue we will be taking this matter up with the three major parties and hopefully we will get some firm commitments,” he said.
“I think it would be very short-sighted for political parties not to support SBS.”
Mr Caputo’s attack on the prospect of a takeover of SBS came after former ABC digital manager Fergus Pitt also called for a merger.
Mr Pitt has prepared a 40-page report for the Australia Institute which suggests that SBS assets, including valuable broadcast spectrum, could be sold to telcos after the migrant broadcasters’ television channels were culled.
Steve Aujard, the president of Save Our SBS, warned that the ABC could look to cash out SBS assets to secure the financial position of its existing operations.