Media abroad: Australia

In Oz multi-lingo TV and radio pubcaster Special Broadcasting Service, now 31 years old, was founded to serve the country’s multicultural population — a remit relaxed in recent years as web has sought popularity with sports programming.

In the outback there’s IMPARJA news services, a public-funded aboriginal-operated community TV service catering to the area’s indigenous communities.

Main pubcaster the ABC has dedicated aboriginal programming on radio and TV and a Web page that tracks indigenous-related news and current affairs stories.

ABC offers aboriginal traineeships, not just in broadcasting but also in management.

The mainstream commercial sector traditionally cherrypicks the best employees who come through the pubcasters, and while second- and third- generation Europeans and increasingly some Asians are employed by the networks, few aborigines do.

Ernie Dingo, a presenter on Nine Network’s “Getaway,” is one exception, as was news presenter Stan Grant. But he was dumped by Seven over an extramarital affair with a co-presenter and now works for CNN Asia.

Oz soaps and dramas are still very monocultural.

“Neighbours” producer Peter Dodds said last year an Asian character would soon be introduced (the first wave of Asian immigration to Oz was after Vietnam War, so it is extremely well established). He believes “Neighbours” is representative of many Melbourne suburbs, but of course many Melbourne (and Sydney) suburbs are not well integrated.

On reality TV programs like “Big Brother” are very white.

Some exceptions, however, are “Australia’s Brainiest Kid” and “Australian Idol,” where ability gets contestants through the door. A very different Australia is portrayed on these shows.

In film, the Australian Film Commission, government’s key development of screen culture and funding, has a separate Indigenous Unit to ensure the participation of indigenous Australians in the industry.

Top film directors like Rachel Perkins, Ivan Sen and others tap this unit from time to time.

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