Obscure Box

Thoughts from inside the obscure box

May 30, 2011

A reply from the ABC over my Skype concerns

Posted by : Michael Lund
Filed under : Consumer, Media, Television

I have finally received an e-mail from the ABC over the Skype concerns I raised in "The ABC’s love affair with Skype" (Wednesday 20 April 2011),.

The e-mail tells me the Audience and Consumer Affairs unit has investigated the matter I raised and has found nothing wrong with Skype mentions by the broadcaster.

When assessed in context, we cannot agree that the references to skype you identify have the effect of promoting or endorsing it. We cannot agree that those references are unduly frequent or prominent, given that the reference is made just once in each report.

Those references are made in order to inform the audience of the variable, and sometimes unpredictable or poor quality, of the audio. Such references are invariably intended to alert the audience to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the people being contacted. For example:

TANYA NOLAN: On a scratchy Skype line, Dr Mohammed went on to say...

Audience and Consumer Affairs has concluded that the references are appropriate, in keeping with section 12 of the ABC Editorial Policies and are not a breach of the Corporation’s independence and integrity.

If I'm not happy with that finding then the e-mail tells me I can raise the matter with the Australian Communications and Media Authority. I think I'll let the matter rest, for now.

But this was the SECOND e-mail I received from the ABC's Corporate Affairs e-mail account that day (the e-mails arrived on Friday but I've been busy, okay!).

The first e-mail was in relation to concerns raised over an ABC television report Bahrain; Kingdom Undercover on the Foreign Correspondent.

But I never raised any concerns over that program. I didn't even see that program.

Reading on and I found that that complaint was made by somebody else. A chap actually working in Bahrain with a PO Box address in the Diplomatic Area of the country.

The e-mail I received from Corporate Affairs gave me his full name, e-mail address, phone number and a full copy of his complaint. I'll steal a line from the end of his complaint.

Shame on you ABC.


One Comment so far ...

1. Mark Pavlichuk

I actually wrote to Phillip Adams (Late Night Live) about it. He didn't reply, but may have actually referenced it on air ie. that he was "required to mention" his next guest would be interviewed via Skype.

In addition there have been some worrying developments under Microsofts stewardship which I referenced in the letter to Phillip which I also include here :

Just raising some concerns regarding the use of Skype on LNL, and the ABC more generally :

* Using the name "Skype" is advertising - the generic term is VoIP (pron. "voyp"). Skype is a commercial VoIP software product recently acquired by Microsoft.

* Microsoft acquired VoIP wiretapping patents last year sparking privacy concerns(1), and early this year re-architectured the Skype network to be more centralised(2), a side effect of which makes wiretapping more technically feasible. This issue is part of a wider privacy battle involving new technologies and governments eg. India insisting on the ability to spy on Blackberry users(3).

(1) COMPUTERWORLD - Microsoft seeks patent for spy tech for Skype
(2) Ars Technica - Skype replaces P2P supernodes with Linux boxes hosted by Microsoft (updated)
(3) ZDNet - India insists upon BlackBerry corporate email spying capability

Comment on May 22, 2012 02:03 pm
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Just so you know…

All thoughts and comments here are the honestly held personal opinion of Michael Lund and are based on the information available at the time of publication.