THE pay-TV industry's peak body has called on the federal government to reopen the Australia Network contract to a competitive tender as part of its commission of audit.
The contract for the soft-diplomacy service was awarded by the Gillard government in 2011 to the ABC despite two tenders recommending it go to Sky News Australia -- a reversal later lashed by the Auditor-General.
The original request for tender documents issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade described the service as "enhancing the government's ability to pursue its broader foreign and trade policy objectives".
The ABC has been accused of failing to meet this goal in the wake of its decision to broadcast allegations Australia tapped the phone of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association has used its submission to the audit committee to call on the root-and-branch review of government functions to examine if taxpayers are getting value for money from the contract.
"There are no substantive public policy grounds that would prevent the Australia Network being reopened to competitive tender," ASTRA chief executive Andrew Maiden said.
"A competitive tender process would assure taxpayers they are receiving the best value for money.
"Further, there is no public policy reason to suggest that the ABC is uniquely placed to deliver the Australia Network service.
"The contract should be awarded to the organisation, public or private, that can most effectively and efficiently deliver the service."