As the nation pauses around its water coolers to discuss the implications of The XYZ’s brilliant challenge to the ABC’s hegemony over public broadcasting, conversation will generally move, Godwin’s Law-like, through three predictable stages:
Stage 1: “The ABC is not biased to the left.”
Stage 2: “Okay, the ABC is biased to the left but we need it to balance the right wing bias on the commercial networks.”
Stage 3: “So, yeah, The Project. But my niece will be devastated if we lose Peppa the Pig.”
You see, if the government transfers half of the ABC’s budget over to The XYZ in order to restore balance to government funded media, Peppa the Pig will be taken out and shot.
Peppa the Pig will not be taken out and shot. Peppa will get new clothes, a hot new sports car, three houses on the Mediterranean and a makeover. Peppa is big business. Billion dollar big. There is even a stage show coming out. If the ABC lost Peppa the Pig, it would be unleashed, not binned. Children all over Australia would have even more access to Peppa the Pig, more than they could possibly imagine, and they can imagine quite a bit. It could be the best thing that ever happened to Peppa in this country.
So it is curious that this defence is even employed, when the simplest Google search, which is all the research I did for this article, can debunk it in about fifteen seconds. In truth, it is an emotive tactic which attempts to override the self evident fact that the ABC is massively biased, and something needs to be done about it.
And it is not a new tactic. During the Howard years, whenever there was but a whiff of a budget cut, Aunty’s supporters would march, holding up Big Ted, Little Ted, and Gemima front and centre. That these well known cultural icons could be used to create big bucks apparently never occurred to them.
May I suggest that Play School do a segment, in between building a rocket ship out of used toilet rolls, and songs about tying shoe laces, that explores the idea that if you bake a little pie, you can’t share it with many people. But if you bake a bigger pie, hell bake lots of big pies, and cupcakes and fairy bread, there is plenty for everybody.
The Peppa the Pig Defence is not a legitimate argument for letting the ABC keep both halves of its budget. It is not a legitimate argument for keeping it in public hands. It is deliberate misdirection, cried Helen Lovejoy style, as cover for the fact that the ABC is biased, it is biased at our expense, and to Australia’s loss.