External audit to monitor for ABC bias

2013-12-11_2122The ABC will produce and publish external audits examining its impartiality, following recent criticism from News Corp Australia and some members of the Government.

ABC chairman James Spigelman defended the ABC’s expansion in digital media, and told the National Press Club that ABC was always bound to clash with other broadcasters.

“In 1933, I think it was, when the ABC first announced that it was intending to provide a news service, the campaign was launched to cut the funding of the ABC,” he said.

“That campaign was run by the then CEO of the Herald Times, Keith Murdoch. Some things change very little over the generations. News Limited runs an extraordinary suite of newspapers. The Australian itself – we’re lucky to have it in terms of depth and range.”

Four external audits a year will be conducted. The first being headed by the BBC’s former chief editorial policy advisor, Andrea Wills, is nearly completed.

“Her report will assess the impartiality of all of the interviews on ABC radio of the then Prime Minister and the then Leader of the Opposition during the recent election campaign,” he said.

“The second audit, we haven’t appointed anyone yet, will concern the treatment of the debate about asylum seekers.

Audits will be in addition to the ongoing program of internal reviews of ABC programs and their editorial content.


  1. “Spigelman …. told the National Press Club that ABC was always bound to clash with other broadcasters”.
    Isn’t it more a “clash” with a certain newspaper mogul, rather than with “other broadcasters”?. Campaigns against the ABC seem to be in the DNA of a certain media family – starting in 1933 when there was to be a, shock, horror, ABC News.
    Now the ABC has to publish “audits” because News Corp and their friends in high places want it.

  2. @ vitieddie – “If you are publishing or broadcasting the news (and I assume you hold some legal right given by the government to do so…”
    No, you don’t need any government approval or
    licence to publish a newspaper. Oh dear, did I just give an American mogul an idea? Newspaper licencing anyone?
    ““public broadcaster” is a term given to a government-owned entity (ABC, SBS, BBC, NHK), “private broadcaster” is a term given to a non-government-owned broadcaster (commercial or community station, e.g. TEN, NOVA).

  3. Also – am sick of the “public broadcaster” argument. If you are publishing or broadcasting the news (and I assume you hold some legal right given by the government to do so) – then you should be held accountable for facts and impartiality.

  4. What Bazza said.

    I hope that any time the ABC holds an MP accountable for their actions, or questions them rigorously over a reneged promise or a policy backtrack, that we’re not going to constantly hear accusations of “bias”.

    Please let’s hope too that there are no real plans to sell off the ABC either, the thought of it in the hands of a media plutocrat doesn’t bear thinking about…

  5. This is ridiculous. The ABC hasn’t moved from centred and largely unbiased broadcasting at any point, it’s society as a whole that has swung out to the right and continues to go further (largely due to certain media influences who need not be named).

  6. Murdoch is not running a public broadcaster.
    No is Green Left Weekly.

    The ABC is a public broadcaster that has to follow a charter and is answerable to taxpayers who fund it, not just its fans.

    Token reports conducted by someone from another left wing public broadcaster is not going to do anything, that is the point.

  7. Ultimo is run by humanities educated professionals and caters for like people. Everybody knows that and hand picking 4 narrow topics a year to review to claim they aren’t isn’t going to fool anyone.

    “[The ABC is] very conscious that we find it hard to reach certain parts of the community. If you look at Sydney, we have fantastic audience share around the Inner West and North Shore, but once you get out further west we struggle. There is a sense among a significant part of the audience that the ABC is not really for them. I think that’s something we need to address […] quite seriously”.

    Richard Finlayson, ABC Director of TV in The SMH Guide this week.

  8. What a joke this is, ABC having to prove to News corp that they are not Bias. News Corp are the ones that are pushing the Right Wing Propaganda, and it’s the ABC is standing in their way. So lets get rid of the ABC!!!

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