Sky TV has been lobbying to take over the ABC's Asia Pacific television service - will they get what they want?
There's been a much lower profile media stoush unfolding in recent weeks, that's at least as important in terms of how Australia is seen in Asia, but unlike Schapelle no one is reporting it.
That's ABC Asia Pacific - the satellite service the ABC broadcasts into Asia which is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
You can't watch it here in Australia but our big media players, Kerry, Rupert and Kerry, know all about it.
And they would have noted the following exchanges in Senate Estimates two weeks ago as well.
Senator Conroy: I want to move on to talk about ABC Asia Pacific television. Could you give the committee a brief overview of the sorts of programs that you broadcast on that service and how many countries you go to now?
Russell Balding: I would love to. ABC Asia Pacific has been the untold success story. The service is now available in 39 countries on 155 platforms and it is one of the fastest growing networks in the Asia Pacific region, Senator.
— Senator Conroy
Shadow Minister for Communications and Russell Balding
Managing Director, ABC, Senate Estimates, May 23 2005
So why was ABC boss Russell Balding being given the opportunity to spruik the ABC's Asia Pacific Television Service?
Well because some of the most powerful media players in Australia have been bagging it behind his back.
They want to take it off the ABC, along with the $18 and a half million dollars a year that Foreign Affairs pays to fund it.
But everyone is again being coy about spelling out exactly who is involved.
Senator Conroy: Who else would be interested in tendering for this?
Russell Balding: I believe there is some-else wanting to tender, but the details of that is speculation at this stage. I believe another consortia out there is very much interested in putting in a bid
Senator Conroy: I can only guess that it would be some-one like Fox/Sky
Russell Balding: It could be.
— Senate Estimates, May 23 2005
Well let's spit it out, it is Sky TV, and they've already put in an expression of interest.
The ABC Foreign Affairs contract runs out in 2006, and the assumption had been that subject to a performance review, the contract would simply be renewed for another five years.
But, not if Sam Chisholm can stop it.
Sam is not just the Acting CEO of Channel Nine, he's the chairman of Sky TV - a 24 hour news service on Australian pay TV.
Sky TV is jointly owned by BSkY B (that's Murdoch), PBL, that's Packer, and Ch 7, that's Kerry Stokes.
With that kind of clout behind him, Chisholm didn't find it hard to get a face to face with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer a few months ago, to pitch Sky's case - Give us the money and we give you a bigger, better service - more and more news and less drama, education and docos.
So who will the government back - the ABC or Sky?
What did Communications Minister Helen Coonan have to say?
Senator Conroy: You can afford to be seen as a referee for the ABC on this one in the process can't you? It is a bloody good service.
Senator Coonan: As I have said it's a good service. There is no doubt about that, but there is a process.
Senator Conroy: Are you prepared to lobby, to make representations or to send a letter on their behalf?
Senator Coonan: I would have thought that at least it might be a Cabinet decision. I will reserve my views as to how that will go.
Senator Conroy: We're counting on you Minister.
— Senate Estimates, May 23 2005
Cabinet will decide in the next few weeks whether to renew the ABC's contract, or put it out to tender to accommodate Sky.
There are many important issues here, which we feel should be debated, in the public domain.
Should the government give tax payer dollars to Kerry, Rupert and Kerry, so that they can expand their Sky brand into Asia?
And do we think that Ch 9, Ch 7 and News Limited, on their recent form, are best placed to fulfil the terms of a contract with the government that includes these objectives?
Provide a credible, reliable andindependent voice in the region.
Promote Australia's engagement in the Asia-Pacific region by fostering public understanding of Australia, its people and its strategic and economic interests.
Read the ABC Asia Pacific document in full
We put a series of questions to Sky but have had no response - so watch this space.
Now let's take a break from the big stuff.