Public Broadcasting: Australia's 'Best Soft Power'

Mark Scott, Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Sid Myer, Chairman, Asialink Asia Society AustralAsia Center, in Sydney on August 5, 2010.

SYDNEY, August 5 - Mark Scott, Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, argued that public broadcasting is the most efficient and effective way of presenting Australia's culture and institutions across the region, in a speech here before Asialink Asia Society AustralAsia.   

"It is the most cost-effective means of influencing foreign publics and reaching large numbers of people on a daily basis, he said, “far more than any other public diplomacy mechanism."

Scott emphasized that in present times soft power and cultural diplomacy play a vital role in international relations and asserted that Asia was the centre of 21st century power.

He noted that China, France, Germany, and Japan have all introduced additional services in Asia and the Pacific in the past 18 months for one important reason:

"Because this is the site, not just of Australia's strategic and economic influences, but of 21st century power," he said.

“Everyone wants to be here, and everyone wants to have their voice and influence experienced here.”

In addition to providing news and current affairs to the region, Scott was keen to point out that the strength of the Australia Network was in the diversity of its programming.

"This mix of programming works well for us as a nation as audiences develop a more complex understanding or who we are as Australians—a picture that goes beyond our civic life to our cultural interests," he said.

"These other programs we show might better explain to a confused region why who wins Masterchef might be just as important to Australian audiences as who wins the televised [election] debate."

Scott also underscored that while Radio Australia and Australia Network require public funding, they are independent in all aspects.

“This work has been kept in safe hands for the very good reason that public broadcasters not only have expertise and experience, but the reputation for editorial indepedence best matches these responsibilties.”

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Reported by Will McCallum