Modia Minotaur

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Gutting the ABC

If changes to the ABC are approved by arch ABC enemy Gerard Henderson, you know they're a worry.

New ABC Director General Mark Scott has announced wide ranging policy changes, including the establishment of a new internal position of a `director of editorial policies'. That sounds dangerously like `director of keeping the lid on controversies that may make the Government look silly'. Such controversies include the Vivian Solon affair, almost entirely prosecuted by the ABC's Lateline, and the revelations of underhanded dealings between Alan Jones and Telstra by Media Watch - a show which, incidentally, was singled out by Scott as worthy of a `revamp'. Perhaps the sort of `revamp' Tony Abbott threatened to impose upon the aforementioned Lateline during the last Federal Election after Tony Jones' interview with him about whether he had attempted to influence Catholic Archbishop George Pell to oppose Labor's education policy.

The fact that journalists are being put in such an ignominious position is not a demonstration of an anti government bias - it's a demonstration that the ABC is now the only Australian network that doesn't shy away from testing the sitting government rather than passing off fat-busting, neighbours-arguing, cure-for-back-pain guff as current affairs. Governments - both Liberal and Labor - have always feared the ABC for this reason. It's for this reason that the ABC is one of the dwindling list of news sources I actually trust.

The government's own enquiries have failed to uncover the sort of bias the government would like to find in order to prove their eminently silly assertion that the ABC is a Marxist lobby group in disguise (extending to Piers Akerman embarrassing himself with his quite hilarious - and, as was subsequently proven, entirely inaccurate - claims that even the kiddies are being indoctrinated via Play School). Constant and permanent monitoring of the ABC for bias is an idea that has been raised before, and, knowing a little bit about the media monitoring industry, I know that this would cost an absolute fortune.

Media and democracy are so tightly enmeshed today that weakening the integrity of one is weakening the integrity of the other. Both of these qualities are under serious attack.


At 11:40 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My understanding was that there already were editorial guidelines for news and current affairs.
What these policy changes have done has extended it pretty much beyond that and sought to cover areas like what kind of documentaries the ABC shows and even comedies.

It's all pretty ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as that rant in The Australian today about privatising the ABC.

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