I was working Sunday February 7 when Conroy made the strange announcement, and frankly felt a bit of outrage might be in order.
The ABC's Mark Scott, whose tweets I follow, actually seemed pleased with the announcement:
Government to rebate commercial free-to-air TV licence fees to promote Australian content.......very significant step. 3:30 PM Feb 7th from TweetDeck
The Coalition's Communications Spokesman Tony Smith through his spokesman Andrew Cox dictated these supportive words to me over the phone:
"Preserving quality Australian content is important and there is little doubt the cost of delivering that content is higher at present. While we acknowledge support is warranted during transition to digital television, we look forward to considering further details and the government's costings."No suggestion at the time that it could be inappropriate...
One week later on Sunday February 14, I was working again when news came through about Conroy's skiing meeting with Stokes.
Smith emailed Cox who emailed me:
From: Smith, Tony (MP)
To: Cox, Andrew (T. Smith, MP)
Sent: Sun Feb 14 17:00:02 2010
Senator Conroy has simply not been upfront and open in the last week.
He should release the full costings and all of the detail to justify both the size and the duration of the rebates.
And given his public linkage of the rebates with quality Australian content – he must detail what commitments he has sought and received to achieve this objective.
Again, no outrage at the idea of handing money to the commercial television networks.
Like I said, that took time to build.
. The networks war on TV
. Of all the dodgy explanations... (Stephen Conroy edition)
. Well it's quarter of a billion, see. And I'm handing it to Australia's commercial television stations