Apologies for posting this piecemeal. I have trouble getting internet access at the moment.

Britain has a national broadcaster called the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). They produce and air both television and radio programs. During my time living in the U.K I enjoyed watching the BBC. I'm hooked on the Bill.

Australia has a national broadcaster called the ABC (completely different from the American ABC, just the same initials) or Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which was based on the BBC. They are not allowed to advertise, so the news and current affairs programs are not influenced by business interests. Announcers on commercial radio and television are often paid to surreptitiously endorse products. Announcers on ABC radio and television do not do this as they are not allowed to mention brand names. Maintaining political neutrality is a tricky business, but it seems to work. The ABC runs a television station called Channel 2, which screens a lot of locally made programs as well as stuff bought from the BBC.

ABC radio has several stations, including one called Triple J, which is designed to appeal to young people. It has a news and current affairs show on in the mornings which tends to focus on news and events which are interesting and relevant to the young, to try and get this age group interested in politics and world affairs. There are no annoying ads. They play more local music than commercial stations, which is good for new bands trying to get a foot in the door. They do live broadcasts from various locations around the country and give people in rural communities an opportunity to speak out about issues that concern them. It is aired all over the country, which helps give its listeners a feeling of belonging to the country as a whole, rather than an isolated city (which can be a problem when your cities are as far apart as our state capitals are).

Clearly, it is possible for a nation to afford a national broadcaster. In Australia, we already have most of the programs I described. I think all the people who've insisted that all of this is not possible were Americans, and they seem to be assuming I meant that America should suddenly adopt all of the measures I'm suggesting. That's not what I was saying at all. To do something like that would be fraught with difficulty.

In answer to the question of 'how can we afford all this?', Australia spends its government money differently. We do not have the same emphasis on the military (although that's changing). More importantly, I'm told we pay higher income tax than Americans do, but the majority of our citizens consider the benefits of welfare and health care etc. well worth that small sacrifice. Higher taxes are also partially compensated for by the fact that, on average, we have higher wages, as they are protected by tougher legislation.