What would happen if the government sold triple j?

Written by Tyler Jenke on 17th June, 2018
What would happen if the government sold triple j?

triple j has been one of the most influential aspects of the Australian Broadcasting Company ever since it kicked off as Double J back in January of 1975. However, a new proposal by the Australian Liberal Party has once again put the future of the the ABC, and by extension, triple j, in doubt.

As The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday, the Australian Liberal Party recently held a vote which seemed to be largely in favour of the sale of the public broadcaster.

Of course, this isn’t the first time such an issue has been raised, with the Liberal Party calling public ownership of the ABC and SBS “no longer valid” back in 2013. However, renewed fears have begun growing that the ABC could indeed be privatised, leading to many of Australia’s music lovers wondering what will happen to triple j if such a sale occurs.

As even a casual listener would be aware, the key feature that sets triple j apart from every other radio stations is the distinct lack of advertising they feature. This lack of advertising and commercial bias has resulted in the development of a strong sense of community among the station’s demographic, and leading to triple j serving as a music-based station that exists only to satisfy its legions of listeners.

If the ABC is indeed privatised, listeners would then be forced to listen to a radio station that is run as a business – in other words, a commercial radio station. No longer would we have the ad-free format that we’ve enjoyed for so long, but we would begin to see cashed-up corporations poking their heads in, looking to promote their products and events wherever and whenever possible.

This would also lead to a flow-on effect in which triple j presented gigs would no longer representative of the station’s current sound. Rather than fostering homegrown and up-and-coming talent, the festivals and gigs we currently enjoy would be going to the highest bidder, meaning that events such as the upcoming One Night Stand in Tasmania would be featuring a lineup more akin to what is featured in the current top 40.

As this year’s radio ratings have seen, triple j have continued to hold a large market share around the country when compared to their commercial counterparts. While there’s nothing to say that this sort of trend wouldn’t continue if the ABC were to be privatised, the very fact that the station would begin to be treated as a commercial station indicates that they very essence of what its listeners have come to know and love over the years would be at risk, effectively putting an end to a stunning 43-year legacy.

Likewise, we may even end up in a situation where Double J and triple j Unearthed are either dumped completely, or merged with triple j in an effort to cut costs for the prospective buyer, whoever they could be. Needless to say, without these platforms, up-and-coming talent in Australia would almost immediately begin to suffer, without tomorrow’s superstars having a platform on which their voices can be heard.

Of course, this wouldn’t just affect triple j either, with programs such as Rage no longer being a non-stop music program, and instead becoming similar to Video Hits, in which presenters cut from the latest tunes to non-stop advertising blocks in which clothes, cars, and fast food meals are plugged on repeat.

While there’s currently no concrete plans for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to be sold, the mere thought of it should be enough to send a shiver up the spine of any music-loving Australian. Here’s hoping that the above remains only as a hypothetical and that we aren’t forced to face such a grim reality in the future.

Check out Sparks’ ‘Now That I Own The BBC’:

The article was originally published on The Industry Observer