Crikey’s Eric Beecher: ABC should not have launched The Drum

Crikey boss Eric Beecher has accused the ABC of straying outside its charter remit by launching online comment site The Drum.  

Beecher first made his comments to The Australian, telling the paper the ABC had put its tanks on Crikey’s lawn.

Beecher told Mumbrella that although the launch of The Drum had not had an impact on Crikey’s traffic or advertising revenue, he had still been surprised by the ABC’s move.

He said: “That they would decide to enter this space in such an aggressive way surprises and puzzles me. It’s a space that is already extremely well served. It’s hardly a core activity on the ABC’s part.”

Among those currently offering online commentry are News Ltd’s The Punch, Fairfax’s National Times and On Line Opinion. Political website New Matilda closed in June, six months after The ABC launched The Drum, headed by Crikey’s former editor Jonathan Green.

According to Nielsen Market Intelligence, during September, Crikey averaged 18,075 daily unique browsers. The Punch had 14,767 and On Line Opinion 2,020. The ABC is not covered by Nielsen Market Intelligence.

Beecher said the ABC appeared to be “targeting Crikey”, including approaching its existing contributors. He said: “We are one of the very few independently operating outlets in Australia built on journalism.”

Asked what he would do in ABC boss Mark Scott’s place, Beecher said: “If I was Mark Scott I would not do it, for tactical and diplomatic reasons. It builds the feeling that the staff of the national broadcaster have biased views, as we all do of course.”

Bruce Belsham, editor-in-chief of told the Australian that Beecher’s comments were “fairly self-serving”.


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