Australian Broadcasting in Asia and the Pacific

Supporters of Australian Broadcasting in Asia and the Pacific is a group of Australians and overseas colleagues with experience in the region, together with people in Asia and the Pacific interested in what Australian media has to offer. For a country of its size Australian media coverage of the region is inadequate. This not-for-profit group includes current and former senior executives, journalists, technical experts, academics, members of the audience and members of Asia Pacific diaspora communities in Australia. SABAP proposes an Australia Asia Pacific Media Initiative.

12 November 2019-- MMFF outcome statement 2019 - Melanesian Media Freedom Forum

29 October 2019-- Kiribati urged to ease media restrictions, but journos must stick to the rules - Pacific Freedom Forum

24 October 2019-- Response to report of the Review of Australian Broadcasting in Asia & Pacific - Supporters of Australian Broadcasting in Asia & the Pacific

Annmaree O'Keefe, Lowy Interpreter

Over the decades since (the ABC's) inauguration, Australia’s efforts to speak for ourselves through the ABC’s Radio Australia and its succession of Australian television formats have waxed and waned.

Since 2014, that voice has been increasingly muted as drastic cuts to the ABC budget and the abrupt cancellation by the Abbott government of the ABC’s Australia Network contract have seen international broadcasting become a frontline victim of dwindling ABC funding. More ...

24 October 2019

Rosemary Bolger, SBSNews

Pacific television viewers are yet to see any Australian shows a year after the Morrison government announced a $17 million deal to share commercial content.

To the surprise of some Pacific broadcasters, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the plan to export 1,000 hours of top-rating Australian content a year to the region in November last year as part of a soft power push.

Free TV, which represents Australian commercial channels, was tasked with negotiating with Pacific broadcasters on the types of programs to be made available. More ...

22 October 2019

Alex Hawke and Scott Morrison at the Pacific Island Forum in Tuvalu in August. Source: AAP
ABC Chair, Ita Buttrose, delivers Lowy Institute Annual Media Lecture

When ABC Chair Ita Buttrose was asked to deliver the Lowy Institute’s annual media lecture she was also asked to deliver ‘news’, and she did. A call for more funding for the ABC in Asia and the Pacific and the announcement of the launch next month of an international edition of its streaming application iview - no mean feat considering the complicated and expensive rights issues this entails.

The international edition – to be called ABC Australia iview - will include selected episodes from dozens of ABC titles including Australian Story, Four Corners, Gardening Australia, Waltzing the Dragon, Foreign Correspondent, Q&A and an un-geoblocked stream of the ABC News channel, Ita told the Lowy media dinner. The ABC’s flagship discussion program Q&A will also venture into the Pacific for the first time, with a broadcast from Fiji with an international panel on 2nd December. More ...

12 October 2019

SABAP's full delegation met with ABC Chair Ita Buttrose this week and was pleased that she is enthusiastic about seeing the ABC do better in the Asia Pacific region. It is an issue that will be before the full ABC board this month and getting a higher profile in the lead-up to the 80th anniversary of Radio Australia in November. Ita will also be giving the keynote address at the Lowy media lecture 19th October.

Our delegation came away from this and other smaller meetings in Canberra confident that we will be seeing new initiatives in the region soon. These are likely to be small first steps that might build better foundations for our pitch for a longer term much bigger revitalisation of the Australian media presence in Asia and the Pacific..

SABAP is aiming to build support for a sustainable bi-partisan major new multi-platform media initiative in the region based around partenerships between Australian and regional media. We see joint-content creation as the key to exciting new two-way conversations that see Australians talking 'with' not 'to' the region. Opportunities for the involvement of all Australian media, especially media involving Australia's Asia Pacific diaspora communities, will add diversity, creativity and long-term durability to new initiatives in the region. More ...

SABAP meeting with Chair of the ABC Jemima Garrett, Co-convenor SABAP; ex-ABC Pacific correspondent & reporterIta Buttrose, Chair of the ABCBruce Dover, ex-News Ltd lead in China, ex-CNN and ABC correspondentIan MacIntosh, ex-CNN, ex-ABC correspondentMalcolm Long, former SBS MD, former ABC Dep MDKean Wong, freelance journalist and correspondent in SE Asia for many outlets

Courageously reporting from the Highlands of PNG before women were given the credit for stories they gathered, Maureen has covered PNG’s most difficult stories like Bougainville and domestic violence.

Maureen tells Nance Haxton how crucial radio was and is in Papua New Guinea and how from a very young age she wanted to be the voice coming out of the radio. Since then she has covered stories from Australia and across the Pacific, including a recent ten-part series on climate change.

Listen to the Journo Project podcast Streets of Your Town featuring Maureen Mopio-Jane

16 September 2019

DFAT has set up a web page of corrections to media reports on matters of foreign policy which they believe contain inaccuracies.


No doubt this authoritative site will be of great interest to those journalists exercised to describe the Australian government's foreign policy excursions for the public's edification.

16 September 2019

Keith Jackson arrived in Papua New Guinea in 1963 as a school teacher and left in 1976 - one year after independence - as a broadcaster and journalist with 10 years under his belt.

Then he became an executive at the ABC ...


SABAP is delighted to see this initiative. Congratulations to New Zealand.

The Asia Pacific broadcasting initiative proposed by SABAP would complement the work of Pasifika TV and others.

The secret to success is the involvement and partnership with Pacific and Asian journalists and producers.

31 July 2019

Before leaving for the Pacific Forum in Tuvalu, Australia's Minister for International Development Alex Hawke and former diplomat Dave Sharma MP, met with Supporters of Australian broadcasting in Asia and the Pacific (SABAP).

SABAP's delegation Jemima Garrett, Malcolm Long, Bruce Dover and Kean Wong stressed the need for a strong media component to Australia's Step Up in the region. More ...

Malcom Long, Bruce Dover, Jemima Garrett & Dave Sharma

30 August 2019

ABC puts senior Pacific reporters in redundancy shark pool ... but plans continue for new Pacific intiatives

Four senior journalists at ABC's Melbourne office have been put in a redundancy shark pool from which only two will emerge with a job. At least 3 of the reporters have significant experience in the Pacific and are part of the ABC's valuable Pacific brains trust. The loss of senior staff, and program material for ABC's flagship current affairs program Pacific Beat, is concerning. Pacific Beat receives 2-3 stories a week from the two positions to be cut as well as valuable knowledge and collegiality. The two positions being axed are morning and afternoon newsreading roles which will be re-located to Sydney as part of a reorganisation to establish an ABC radio/audio news centre of excellence. With so few Pacific reporters left in Melbourne they will leave a gap that threatens to undermine the small critical mass of reporters with a passion for the Pacific and knobble the capacity of the Melbourne team to train new reporters. At the same time the ABC is working on short and long-term plans to boost its Pacific coverage with more stories reported from the region. Three weeks ago News Director Gaven Morris promised Pacific journalists visiting Sydney there would be more collaborations and asked that they hold him to account on that. At a moment when the ABC is facing more scrutiny than ever over its Pacific coverage it is hard to understand why these changes are occurring before its new plan is fully thought through. The redundancy move is still a proposal and not too late for a rethink that will be in keeping with the ABC's pledge to improve coverage of the Pacific. In the past, other re-organisations have been modified before implementation.

12 August 2019

ABC wants new collaborations in the Pacific

The ABC is keen to collaborate more with Pacific journalists says News Director Gaven Morris and he has asked them to hold him to account on building new media partnerships in the region. It’s a very welcome initiative from Morris and from the ABC, which in the past 12 months has been preoccupied with budget cuts and Board/CEO woes, not to mention the recent AFP raid.

‘It's time we collaborated more with all of you’ Gaven Morris told 15 of the Pacific’s top journalists as he welcomed them last week to the ABC HQ in Ultimo. Together, the Pacific journalists represent hundreds of years of experience including at CEO and managing editor level. They were joined by members of ABC senior management team and by ABC reporting staff including Pacific luminaries such as Evan Wasuka and Liam Fox. Morris acknowledged earlier budget cuts had been a tough time for the ABC’s Asia Pacific services but said he is really keen to work with his teams to get the ABC back into in the game in the Pacific in a much more meaningful way.

‘Having you all here is a reminder that it is time we got back to being a partner(with you) in the way we tell the Pacific story to people in Australia’ and to ‘people across the Pacific and, hopefully, to the broader world’. ‘Hold me to that commitment. Hold the ABC to account in relation to how we get back into that game in a way that perhaps in the last few years we have not been nearly as productive and as present as we should be,’ Morris said.

Tonga’s ground-breaking journalist Kalafi Moala told of his first collaboration with the ABC 28 years ago, which provided a much-needed daily news outlet to circumvent a Tongan government media blackout on reporting parliamentary debate about its illegal passport sales to Hong Kong citizens. ‘We need you and you need us too,’ the Times of Tonga founder told ABC managers as he called for collaboration on more projects.

Pacific Economic and Business Reporting Colloquium Vipul Khosla, Ofani Eremae, Kalafi Moala, Dorothy Wickham, Cedric Patjole, Sofaia Koroitanoa, Det Carreon-Brooks, Georgina Kekea and Monika Singh with Gaven Morris.

'Media is so much more complex today than it was when we started out. We need your wisdom, we need your experience, we need your skills and you need us on the ground,’ he said.

The ABC also has recently re-instated its Pacific song competition, the winner of which will perform at WOMADelaide 2020.

The Pacific journalists were in Sydney for a Pacific Economic and Business reporting colloquium and the launch of the new Training Grants Initiative for senior regional journalists wanting to run training for their peers. The colloquium and Grants Initiative was funded by Australian aid the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) which is managed by ABC International Development.

5 April 2019

Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism set up in conjunction with the Walkley Foundation

Former ABC PNG and Pacific Correspondent and SABAP member Sean Dorney has been honoured with an annual grant in his name for a significant work of journalism in the Pacific.

Sean’s track record 40 years as an iconic name in journalism in the Pacific and in highlighting Australia’s neglect of the region (most recently in his book The Embarrassed Colonialist) are well known. The courage, humanity and humour he brought to his outstanding coverage of PNG and the Pacific have created big shoes to fill for awardees.

The grant provides $10,000 to assist an Australian reporter to produce a work of journalism in any medium, giving voice to Pacific island perspectives on an under-reported issue or development of importance to Australia and the region.

In 2019 the award was won by Vanuatu-based journalist Ben Bohane to enable him to cover Bougainville’s referendum on independence in November.

Members of SABAP (Tess Newton Cain, Sue Ahearn and Jemima Garrett) spearheaded a fundraising campaign for establishment of the Grant in conjunction with the Walkley Foundation. As the ABC Alumni noted: ‘The grant is a fitting way for Sean’s impact and legacy to be carried forward by and for the industry he loves’.