Faine: ABC Needs More Mongrel, More Money

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By Cathryn Boyes

The ABC must be “a bit more mongrel,” and needs funding security to strengthen its future according to veteran broadcaster Jon Faine.

The national broadcaster “only survives at the moment on unpaid overtime and the goodwill of the staff and that’s not good enough,” he told a Melbourne Press Club farewell lunch in early October.

A strong critic of former ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie, Faine applauded the appointment of new ABC chair Ita Buttrose and managing director David Anderson.

He said the ABC now had a really good team in place and he was more concerned about whether the new Communications Minister Paul Fletcher was prepared to listen to the “justified and not exaggerated requests” to address the “inadequacy” of ABC funding.

Being “the most complained about person at the ABC” doesn’t bother Faine.

“I wear it as a badge of honour because it means you’re getting a reaction,” he said.

Faine has provoked strong reactions during his 23 years as host of Mornings on ABC Radio Melbourne and says the complaints were almost never upheld.

“It’s making people connect and it’s making people care and I don’t apologise for doing that at all,” he said.

Faine thinks the ABC risks becoming “too bland because it doesn’t want to upset people.”

“I think the ABC has to be a bit more mongrel, if anything,” he said.

“Our job is to put the blowtorch to people. That’s the only reason we exist, surely. And if we can’t do that because we’re scared people might complain about us, well we might as well turn everything off and shut the doors and turn out the lights.”

Watch the MPC's tribute to Jon Faine:

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