Written and transcribed by Barry Tucker 0000000000 November 16, 2012
I sent an email and numerous articles and graphs to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, on October 26, 2012, related to allegations of perceived bias in ABC News & Current Affairs. Most of these articles are referred to elsewhere on this site. On November 16, 2012, I received a reply by post, most of which is quoted below.
“The Australian Government provides an overall level of funding for the ABC, but has no power to direct the ABC in relation to operational matters. Parliament has guaranteed this independence to ensure that what is broadcast is free of political interference. Internal ABC programming and editorial decisions are the responsibility of the ABC Board and Executive.
“Under the ABC’s Editorial Policies, all news and current affairs content is required to be accurate, impartial and objective and, thereby, free of bias. The policies are available on the ABC website at http://abc.net.au/corp/pubs/edpols.htm.
“The ABC seeks to present a diversity of perspectives in its programming across its services, including television, radio, online, and news and current affairs. The full range of views may not be presented in each program, but instead should be aired over time so that ‘no strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented’. The ABC regards this as the key point in assessing impartiality, not the political affiliation or orientations of the guests.”
[My email referred to The Drum, in particular, and included this graph of the political orientation of the program’s guests over a certain period. See separate article Liberals Allowed to Beat Their Drum Loudest* on this site.]
Graph produced by http://www.abcgonetohell.net
“The Drum generally features three panellists in each show who are chosen to present a range of views. Many panellists, such as ABC journalists and commentators from other organisations, do not have any affiliation with or stated allegiances to political parties.”
The letter was signed by Mr Greg Cox, Assistant Secretary, Public Interest Broadcasting, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
The remainder of the letter dealt with the ABC’s complaints procedures, which can be found elsewhere on this site.
*The original story (Beating the Drum for the Liberal Party) has migrated from abcgonetohell to Independent Australia website, with the addition of reaction from The Drum’s Steve Cannane, response by author/researcher Andrew Kos and comment by IA’s Editor.
Local Member comments
On November 1, 2012, I wrote to my Local Member, Dr Mike Kelly (Lab. Eden-Monaro), since appointed Minister for Defence Materiel.
Dear Dr Kelly,
“I have been asking Senator Conroy, Minister with responsibility for the ABC, to consider allegations of perceived bias in News & Current Affairs reporting by ABC television, in particular. He has not yet replied, but that is understandable due to his workload.
“I am writing to ask you if the Caucus, the Cabinet and/or the Government is at all concerned about these allegations.
“If the Government, or you, are concerned, would you consider asking a Question Without Notice of the Minister representing Senator Conroy in the House? [Mr Albanese, Manager Government Business] Such question could be along the lines: Is the Minister aware of allegations of biased reporting in the News and Current Affairs of the ABC? Has the Minister investigated these allegations? If proven to be true, what does the Minister propose to do about them?’
“I look forward to your response.
“Sincerely, Barry Tucker”
On November 20, 2012, I received the following reply by email:
“Dear Mr Tucker
“Thank you for your email dated 1st November 2012 concerning allegations of perceived bias in ABC News and Current Affairs reporting. Dr Kelly has asked me to respond on his behalf.
“Your email concerns an email sent directly to the Minister for Communications, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy. Ministerial responses usually take about six weeks due to the workload of ministerial offices.
“Biased political reporting, by any media organisation, is unacceptable in that it offends the intelligence of the consumer. The expectation of the ABC is that it offers a balanced view on issues, not necessarily word for word but to fairly present both sides of a political issue to allow viewers/listeners to be sufficiently well informed to make their own decision.
“If you have not received a response from Minister Conroy within a reasonable time-frame Dr Kelly will happily make representations on your behalf to Minister Conroy.
“Thank you for contacting Dr Kelly on this issue. Should there be another issue you wish to raise please do not hesitate to contact Dr Kelly’s office.
“Thanks & Regards,
Bruce Sharp, Electorate Officer
Office of The Hon Dr Mike Kelly AM MP
Federal Member for Eden-Monaro
Parliamentary Secretary for Defence” [now Minister for Defence Materiel]
The reply does not respond to my query about the possibility of a Question Without Notice (QWN), which I have queried further. However, Senator Conroy’s reply already had been posted to me. In addition, Senator Conroy was on the verge of releasing a News Media Amalgamation Policy, which may have rendered a QWN pointless at that time, or may have given the impression of a “Dorothy Dixer”.
Reproduction of correspondence by Copy&Paste from emails. No editing.