The Government Senators have raised questions about the timing of this
Committee of inquiry, and its report. They expressed these views on
a number of occasions in the public hearings. It is questionable whether
the Committee's reference was established more with a view to staging
a political 'stunt' immediately prior to the May Budget, rather than
a serious and substantive consideration of the various options relating
to the continuing role and relevance of Radio Australia and ATV.
It is expected that the Government will make public a decision regarding
the ABC's global funding in the Budget on 13 May, and it may be expected
that this decision will reflect the Government's stated desire to maintain
important core aspects of the Radio Australia service. However, ultimate
responsibility for making a decision on Radio Australia's future funding
and structure clearly rests with the ABC Board of Management.
In particular, the Government's decision regarding Radio Australia
should reflect the strong commitment the Government has demonstrated
towards the region, especially in Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific.
The Government is urged to give particular consideration to maintaining
a comprehensive RA service to these most important strategic areas.It
is beyond doubt that PNG is a key strategic area for the Australian
Government, as emphasised during the recent civil emergency.
Government Senators believe Radio Australia's English and Pidgin services
are particularly vital communications services in PNG and the South
Pacific countries. Direct listenership and re-broadcast arrangements
enable RA to be heard by more than half the population of the region
every week. Of particular importance to Australia are the business and
community leaders, Government Ministers and other key decision-makers
among this audience.
The role and availability of other international broadcasters in the
region is a decisive consideration. It must be kept firmly in mind that
no other international broadcaster offers a South Pacific service to
match RA. The evidence presented to the Committee relating to the comparative
activities of other international broadcasters showed that the BBC World
Service, Radio France International, Voice of America and Deutche Welle
are all available in the region, but do not have specialised services.
Radio New Zealand International offers a more limited service based
on its domestic New Zealand radio services.
However, this is not the case in the Asia region. Unlike the South
Pacific region, in which no other international broadcaster offers a
service to match RA, Asia is well served by a variety of international
Senator Troeth - Do you consider that the
broadcasts from those other avenues are sufficiently different or
foreign in nature from the Australian broadcasts that they would present
a problem for those listening to them?
Mr Campbell - I do not believe so. 
Also unlike the South Pacific, RA's penetration rate in Asia is relatively
low, and falling. There has been a distinct trend that as countries
of the region developed and their choice of media became wider and more
sophisticated, the use of shortwave has declined. For example, evidence
showed that shortwave listenership in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong,
Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines is low, particularly
among decision-makers.In the context of the ABC's budget commitments,
the Government has to seriously and critically examine whether continuing
to utilise scarce resources to maintaining the comprehensive service
to Asia can be justified.Government Senators do not believe it is economically
responsible to continue to require the ABC to provide a service to expatriates.
Continued commitment to the region
It should be stressed that this recommendation does not amount to,
nor signal, a possible 'disengagement from Asia' in any way whatsoever.
It is a decision we believe may be necessary within the Budget context.
Continued engagement with the Asia-Pacific region must remain our highest
foreign and trade policy priority. Claims that focusing Radio Australia's
service on the South Pacific region would amount to a disengagement
from Asia are simply unfounded and misplaced. The Australian Government's
commitment and priority to the Asia-Pacific region as a whole is clearly
demonstrated by, among other things, the frequency of high level (Prime
Ministerial and Ministerial) visits to countries in the region, particularly
by the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, the Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Mr Downer, and the Minister for Trade, Deputy Prime Minister Mr Fischer.
We believe that these recommendations will allow Radio Australia to
focus its services on the region where they have the greatest impact,
that is, in our immediate region, including among national leaders,
and thus be of greatest benefit to Australia.
With respect to the ATV service, a detailed consideration of ATV has
not been presented here, since Government Senators support the current
sale process which is proceeding. It is puzzling to find the generous
amount of space devoted to this issue in the majority report.
However, Australia will still have a significant and important direct
presence in the Asian region in the event that RA's services are changed,
since the ATV service will continue to build a profile in the region.
When the question is somewhat simplistically asked, "who will speak
for Australia", a significant portion of the answer undoubtedly lies
in the ATV service. Given modern communications developments in this region,
a satellite service such as ATV will prove to be an excellent long term
investment. The Department of Foreign Affairs concurred in its view that
television is the major new medium for reaching opinion makers, particularly
in the region of East Asia. In fact, its recommendation at that time favoured
investment in ATV over Radio Australia. 
 Dr Errol Hodge, Senior Lecturer in Journalism
- QUT, submission No.361, p. 3.
 Review of the Status and Funding of
the ABC's International Broadcasting Services, 1995.