The ABC has released a statement outlining their decision to pass up the recent Radio Birdman documentary.
Last year, it was announced that a new career-spanning documentary about Sydney punk legends Radio Birdman was in the works. Dubbed Descent Into The Maelstrom, the documentary eventually premiered last year, with the band noting that it had “been called the greatest Australian music documentary ever made” even before its release.
While the film is set to be sold on DVD at the group’s upcoming Aussie tour, the band noted last month that the ABC have turned down all offers to acquire the film and screen it to what is undoubtedly an eager audience.
“Considering the highly relevant content of the film, from the perspective of Australian music history, ABC was the obvious choice of channel,” Radio Birdman wrote.
“Despite being given a deeply discounted rate, and after several months of silence, the elite leadership at the taxpayer-funded ABC are refusing to show the film, now or at any time in the future.”
“The band is disappointed but not really surprised. We have been familiar with this sort of attitude from the establishment since the 1970’s.”
Following a call for their fans to appeal to the ABC on their behalf, music-minded Labor MP (and 2017 Record Store Day Ambassador) Anthony Albanese even wrote a letter to the broadcaster in hopes of changing their mind.
“I write to you regarding the ABC’s recent decision not to acquire the broadcasting rights to Jonathon Sequeira’s documentary Descent Into The Maelstrom – The Radio Birdman Story, about iconic Australian punk band Radio Birdman,” the letter begins.
“The creation of the band by Deniz Tek and Rob Younger in Sydney in 1974 cemented the foundation of Australian punk rock – laid by Chris Bailey and Ed Kuepper of The Saints the same year.”
“The band’s visceral performances, attended by thousands, are an important part of Australia’s musical history,” Albanese continued. “I implore the ABC to reconsider acquiring the rights to the film and for it to be broadcasted to the Australian public free-to-air.”
On Friday I wrote to ABC TV asking our public broadcaster to reconsider acquiring the rights to Descent into the…
As The Music reports, the ABC have now provided with them a statement explaining their decision to pass on the doco, reasoning that their duty as a “responsible public broadcaster” prohibited them from making the purchase.
“The ABC did opt to pass on the documentary” the statement begins. “As a responsible public broadcaster, we don’t acquire content that we do not have a need for.”
“In this case, it didn’t make sense to spend money on a 110-minute documentary that did not meet our criteria for either audience appeal or our quality standards. We regularly make such decisions in line with our budget and our priority of commissioning new and distinctive content for audiences.”
“Radio Birdman played an important role in Australia’s music history and the development of our independent music scene,” the statement continues. “Credit to them for their high energy, uncompromising attitude and, as one prominent fan put it, ‘outlaw reputation’.”
“But there are so many significant Australian bands and only so much time in the day. Our slate for Ausmusic Month is already filled with programs celebrating Australian music and artists, including a new music show, live performances, drama series and documentaries about Australian artists past and present, plus our unrivalled commitment to emerging and established Australian musicians on triple j, Double J and triple j Unearthed.”
“We will also offer new children’s content aimed at inspiring Australia’s next generations of musicians and music lovers.”
To be fair to the ABC, considering the fact they received a spending cut in the recent budget and are currently the focus of an efficiency review, it’s understandable that they would need to tighten the purse strings a little bit when it comes to projects such as this.
Regardless, it’s a shame that aspiring musicians and eager fans won’t have the chance to experience something of this calibre.
While it doesn’t appear as though Radio Birdman fans will be able to see the documentary on free-to-air any time soon, it will however be made available for purchase on the group’s upcoming tour.
Incidentally, the entertainment that the ABC has in store for Ausmusic Month is still relatively under wraps, though it was revealed yesterday that a Spicks And Specks revival is set to factor quite heavily.
Though Double J have reported that the revival is set to feature Briggs, Ricki-Lee Coulter, Denise Scott, and Frank Woodley as guest panelists, we’re hoping that they might consider bringing Deniz Tek and Rob Younger as special musical guests at least.
Check out Radio Birdman’s ‘Burn My Eye’:
Radio Birdman Australian Tour 2018
Thursday, September 27th
Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne, VIC
(with Adalita + Los Chicos)
Friday, September 28th
The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
(with Hits + Los Chicos)
Sunday, September 30th
The Gov, Adelaide, SA
(with Los Chicos + The Sunday Reeds)
Saturday, October 6th
Manning Bar, Sydney, NSW
(with Hits + Los Chicos + DJ Frank)