Media release - Alston tries to change umpires : LUSENET : Friends of the ABC : One Thread

MEDIA RELEASE 25 July 2003 – for immediate release Attention News Editor/ Chief of Staff


Senator Alston and Mr Howard are reported to be proposing yet another body to review complaints against the ABC. The work of ABC program makers is already subject to review by: · The ABC’s (internal) Complaints Review Executive, headed by respected senior executive Murray Green. · The ABC Board – all but two of whom were appointed by the Howard government. · The Independent Complaints Review Panel. An external body of people not associated with the ABC, and appointed by the ABC Board. · The Australian Broadcasting Authority, which can hear complaints against all broadcasters, including the ABC. · A detailed review by businessman Bob Mansfield, appointed by Mr Howard, which found no evidence of ABC bias. · The Australian National Audit Office, which regularly reviews the ABC. In its last report the ANAO found no evidence of bias, and reported that its editorial policies were “robust and effective”. · The Senate Estimates Committee, where government Senators regularly cross-examine ABC executives.

Commenting on the latest proposals Friends of the ABC spokesperson Darce Cassidy said:

“ There are already almost enough umpires to make up a football team. Having failed to get the verdict he wanted from any of the existing umpires, Senator Alston wants to add another.

“ He could, as the present law provides, refer the matter to the Australian Broadcasting Authority. But the government appointed Chairman, Professor Flint, would have little credibility as an umpire, having already taken a partisan position on the ABC.”

“If he tries long enough and hard enough Senator Alston will find someone who will give him the answer he wants, but this won’t fool anyone.”

“The final arbiter is public opinion. Surveys show most Australians, and most Coalition voters, think the government misled them over the Iraq war. Other surveys have consistently shown that most Australians, and indeed most Coalition voters, think the ABC does a good job with news and current affairs” …ends

Further comment/information Darce Cassidy 03 9486 9549 (work) 04121 685 178 (mobile) 03 9349 4280 (home)

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2003


I am quite alarmed by the proposal to set up a further watchdog to review ABC journalists. The ABC is such a vast organisation offering objective information to pretty well all interest groups, yet, there are plans to stunt the ABC further. It is my belief that it is for political reasons, rather than the content of a few reports on the Iraq War, that is the reason for Alston's outpourings. It is my belief also, that should Alston continue in such a fashion that there needs to be an orchestrated effort to tackle the private media with charges of bias. Examples might be the relative lack of women's sport being featured, the private media not reporting that the CIA may have been involved in setting up the political climate for acceptance of a war with Iraq. The private media not reporting conditions that ordinary citizens are having to endure currently in Afghanistan and Iraq. I'm sure that there are lots of hows and whys that can be targeted in relation to the private media. The purpose of such a campaign to point out to Alston et al that bias is perceived by the beholder. Anyway, its my intial reaction to the news that Alston wished to set up a further watchdog.

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2003

Why are the FABC so scared of an independant review panel? All taxpayers fund the damned thing. All taxpayers should be satisfied that the ABC is not biased. And please, spare me the tired old rhetoric of "the ABC is there to balance the right wing commercial media". Bollocks! The ABC is there to tell the truth, and it's about time it did!

-- Anonymous, August 05, 2003

Kate asks "Why are the FABC so scared of an independant review panel?" The answer is we aren't. We agree that there should be an independent review panel. Our point is that several independent review mechanisms already exist. Our media release mentions a number of them.

None of these independent review bodies have found systematic bias in the ABC (although complaints against individual stories have been upheld).

Senator Alston appointed the ABC Board. Despite the fact that he (or more correctly his government) appointed them, they don't accept that the ABC is biased.

John Howard appointed businessman Bob Mansfiedl to review the ABC. He failed to find evidence of bias.

So did the Australian National Audit Office.

Opnion polls show that most coaltion voters think that the ABC provides the fairest and most balanced coverage of all the media.

Finally, Kate comments : "And please, spare me the tired old rhetoric of "the ABC is there to balance the right wing commercial media". Bollocks! The ABC is there to tell the truth, and it's about time it did!"

It is not and never has been the Friends of the ABC position that the ABC is there to balance the right wing commercial media by presenting a left wing perspective. That is not the role for a national broadcaster. The ABC is there to tell the truth, to report accurately, and to present a range of views. It does not always do that as well as it might, or as well as it should - but it does do it better than any other mainstream media organisation in Australia.

-- Anonymous, August 05, 2003

Care to comment on Phillip Adams, Media Watch, The Glass House and triple j, Darce? The list goes on and on! Whilst the national broadcaster continues to give oxygen to these jokes on their TV networks and four national radio networks it does not deserve an extra cent.

-- Anonymous, August 06, 2003

Dear Kate, Speaking of jokes, I am greatly offended by the reality that some of my hard-earned tax dollars provide oxygen to that strange luny bunch of extreme right-wing ratbags and shadowy vested interests at the Institute of Public affairs, who unlike the ABC, actually provide a net negative benefit to the (broader) Australian Community in return for their generous tax subsidy.

-- Anonymous, August 11, 2003

Goodness Andrew, I was unaware the Institute of Public Affairs had a taxpayer funded broadcaster with five radio and two TV networks to spread its mantra to 12% of the population.

-- Anonymous, August 12, 2003

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