By Barry Tucker @btckr February 7, 2013
There appears to be a growing perception of bias against the federal government in the news and current affairs programs of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
This page has been set up to collect IDEAS on how this problem can be arrested and corrected. THE PAGE CALLS FOR WORKABLE IDEAS, NOT NEGATIVE COMMENT, RUDENESS, INSULTS AND OTHER USELESS CONTRIBUTIONS. IDEAS only. The post is moderated and unhelpful remarks will be trashed.
A former Liberal Prime Minister, John Howard, appointed certain members to the board of the ABC to redress a perception of a Left-leaning bias in the organisation. Some of these board members are now in their second term. The board elected one of them, Mark Scott, to be its
chairman Managing Director [corrected, Feb 9, 2013]. Mr Scott had previously served as a chief-of-staff and a political advisor to two Liberal NSW government education ministers and is a former Editor-in-Chief of the conservative newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH). The anti-Left bias of the current ABC has followed on from Mr Scott’s former PM Howard’s appointments to the board [rephrased, Feb 9, 2013].
The situation is not clear cut. The federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, recently said Mr Scott still had work to do to correct Left-wing bias in the ABC. The Australian newspaper (owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, an active campaigner against the federal Labor government), occasionally criticises the ABC for being too Left wing. It seems to be that if you are not 100% behind us, you must be biased.
Most board members are appointed by the federal government. At least one is appointed from the ranks of ABC employees. The federal government funds the ABC to ensure its independence; in return it expects impartiality. The organisation manages itself and the responsible minister, at present Senator Stephen Conroy, cannot intervene (as far as I know). Please contribute your ideas below, on the single topic of how to stop and correct any bias in the news and current affairs reporting of the ABC.
On February 8, 2013, I received the Tweet below from Jonathan Holmes, presenter of the ABC’s Media Watch:
@btckr Newman replaced as chairman by Spigelman, hardly a conservative. Yr premise is bonkers.
My premise is based on the appointment of Mark Scott, not James (Jim) Spigelman. Mr Scott this week announced the appointment of ABC critic and Right-wing journalist Janet Albrechtsen to the panel of The Drum, to correct what he said was a Left-leaning imbalance. Most of the people who follow me on Twitter would say The Drum had a Right-wing imbalance.
ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs Investigations recently reprimanded its radio interviewer Jon Faine for breaching ABC impartiality requirements. The ABC apologised for a lapse in standards. The ABC has not apologised for the “Juliar” insult to the Prime Minister.
It seems the ABC is inconsistent when it comes to impartiality and applying its Code of Practice, Editorial Policies and the Guidance Note, Corrective Policies, issued by the MD himself.
PS: The ABC’s inconsistency was evident again today (February 11) when ABC News tweeted an error in the spelling of Gotye’s name. Twenty minutes later it tweeted an apology, an explanation, a correct spelling and a hope of forgiveness by Gotye. A quick apology for a pop star, a lame excuse and no apology for a Prime Minister. See: Outrageous slur story in the ABC Radio & TV menu above, or the link below.
I received this yesterday (for a post on which comments had been closed), but I reproduce it here because it is relevant:
Please consider posting the contact details for Minister Conroy – phone, email, fax, snail mail – and put out the call for people to bombard his office with requests for the removal of Scott, a shake-up of the Board and institution of strict impartiality requirements.
Contact details for Senator Conroy can be found here: http://bit.ly/XNR7VW
A Wikipedia entry on the ABC board can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABC_Board