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ABC responds to fishing show proposal

IN the August 2010 edition of Fishing World magazine, Jim Harnwell’s editorial “Fish on the box” highlighted the increasing availability of fishing viewing, either via the Internet or an ever-growing number of TV channels. In the piece he lamented the fact that while there may be a glut of fishing programming available on free-to-air and pay TV channels there are also a lack of quality, informative fishing shows on air.

“A lot of fishos I know hark back to the popular ABC series A River Somewhere as being a stand-out fishing show. I liked some aspects of that series – mainly the fantastic camera work, which was outstanding,” Harnwell wrote.

“Peter Morse’s Wildfish series on SBS was more my cup of tea. It was a pity that series ended. Morse knew what he was talking about and his laconic style is sadly missed in a time when many other fishing TV presenters seem to be stricken with verbal diarrhoea and shameless self-promotion,” he added.

“As I’ve written before, Ron Calcutt’s seminal ABC series A Fisherman’s World, filmed and directed by the redoubtable Ossie Emery back in the 1970s, really appealed to me with its big fish action and post-hippie sense of adventure and freedom.”

In the piece, Jim also floated the idea that Australia’s public broadcaster, the ABC, should once again be involved in producing a fishing show like the three aforementioned.
“In my view, the ABC should be the network responsible for producing a quality, informative national fishing show. The ABC does this for gardening with its Gardening Australia show and with various cooking programs.”

Following through on this idea, Jim wrote to the ABC’s Managing Director, Mark Scott, on several occasions, to propose that the ABC once again produce a fishing show. Last week he received the following response via email:

Dear Mr Harnwell,

Thank you for your letter and emails to the Managing Director regarding your question of ABC Television developing a dedicated fishing program. The Managing Director’s office has forwarded your enquiries to ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs for response and ABC Television’s Head of Factual programming has contributed to this response.

As you note, there are a number of fishing programs on both commercial free-to-air and subscription television channels. Part of the ABC’s Charter obligations require the Corporation to take into account the services provided by other broadcasters and while this in no way precludes the ABC from developing a fishing program, we do need to take these factors into consideration, as well as consider whether such a program would be an appropriate fit for our schedule.

The ABC acknowledges that fishing is an extremely popular pursuit and, as you may know, many ABC Local Radio networks broadcast fishing programs each Saturday morning. However, in terms of television programming, fishing programs, like shows dedicated to cars, wine and other hobbyist pursuits are niche programming that tend to fit better with commercial broadcasters, and in particular lifestyle channels.

If ABC Television did enter this field it would probably have a specific approach which would resemble less of a lifestyle program and be more like the series you refer to, ‘A River Somewhere’. In any case, ABC Television’s Head of Factual content advises that if the ABC was approached by someone with a unique format and preferably with on-air talent, their proposal would be considered. If you are aware of anyone in such a position I would encourage you to pass on the link to ABC Television’s co-production page – www.abc.net.au/tv/independent

I hope this information is of assistance and thank you again for taking the time to contact the ABC.

Yours sincerely,

Kirstin McLiesh

Head, Audience and Consumer Affairs

So while it’s disappointing the ABC hasn’t got the initiative to itself produce a TV show designed to satisfy the needs of Australia’s millions of anglers, it seems to be open towards the idea of at least considering a proposal from some keen and motivated angler/TV producer. So if you’ve got any ideas for a halfway decent fishing show, let the ABC know via www.abc.net.au/tv/independent.

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