ABC “a launchpad for ideas and fresh talent”

The ABC is a launchpad for ideas and fresh talent and does not disadvantage other commercial media, according to the broadcaster.

ABC has submitted a 60 page submission to the Federal Government’s inquiry into competitive neutrality, rejecting any notion it has an unfair advantage or is crowding out commercial media companies.

ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie said public and commercial media had successfully co-existed since the founding of the ABC 86 years ago.

“This mixed media model has contributed enormously to media diversity, a well-informed public and a richer Australian culture,” she said.

“As its submission shows, the ABC is well aware of its privileged position in Australian society. The ABC uses its government funding efficiently and effectively to deliver on its Charter obligations to provide comprehensive and innovative public broadcasting and digital media services to Australian audiences.

“It rigorously supports the principles of competitive neutrality – that public and commercial sector entities should function on a level-playing field – and applies them appropriately.

“Far from disadvantaging commercial media, the evidence shows the ABC has a positive influence on the broader media sector, including in its focus on innovation and its ability to serve as a launchpad for ideas and fresh talent.”

Guthrie added the transformed media landscape was affecting all media organisations and any move to curtail ABC’s activities would serve only to punish Australian audiences.

The ABC’s submission to the Competitive Neutrality Inquiry and the RBB Economics executive summary are available at

Key points in the ABC submission:

The ABC is driven by the mandate in its Charter, not profit incentives or competition for advertising dollars. The ABC is guided by and operates within its legislative obligations, including the ABC Charter. Unlike commercial content suppliers, the ABC is not guided or driven by profit motivations or advertising dollars.

The ABC strives to create high-quality, innovative and distinctive content. In accordance with its Charter, the guiding principles in the ABC’s strategy are to ensure that its content is of a high quality, innovative and distinctive from that offered by the commercial and community sectors.

The ABC supports the principles of competitive neutrality and applies them in its business activities. The ABC recognises the importance of competitive neutrality and acts in a way that is consistent with the Commonwealth’s Competitive Neutrality Policy in its business activities, including by accepting complaints made about the ABC. There has been one such complaint made previously to the Australian Government Competitive Neutrality Complaints Office, the outcome of which was that the ABC’s pricing of the relevant services was determined to be consistent with competitive neutrality principles.

The ABC appropriately takes into account the interests of the commercial and community sectors in all of its activities. The ABC focuses on providing distinctive content, and actively takes account of services provided by the commercial and community sectors. The ABC’s activities do not crowd out commercial and community content suppliers. To the extent that there is any competitive overlap between the ABC and commercial and community sectors, the ABC enhances competition and innovation, resulting in better outcomes for audiences. The ABC also delivers benefits to the Australian creative community and media sector by investing in that sector and developing capability and talent over time.

The regulatory obligations on the ABC do not provide it with an unfair competitive advantage. The ABC operates under strict regulatory obligations. Although these obligations are different to those of commercial content providers, the ABC does not enjoy any unfair competitive advantage as a result of differential regulatory treatment when the relevant regulations are examined holistically.


  1. carolemorrissey

    All this claim of ABC being ‘lefty bias’ is nonsense. This morning’s Insiders had a whole panel of right wingers. All this week on 7.30 it was a bash Labor & Shorten feeding frenzy while giving a free pass to the Govt. It’s infuriating.

    • How amusing you that think this a hour long show on Sunday morning, with 4 soft-Left journalists on, means the ABC isn’t biased?

  2. I used to watch the ABC a lot once but now apart from the news channel and a few truly fine shows such as Four Corners and Landline I don’t. SBS with its eclectic mix won me over. The ABC when it started off on its ‘ratings chase’ inevitably meant dumbing down. At least they respond promptly at their complaints department which I believe is kept very busy these days.

  3. What I struggle to understand is why, on the one hand, the ABC news department uses taxpayer funds to cuddle up with a commercial company (Fairfax) which is “driven by profit motivations” in presenting “exclusive” gotchas – presumably in an attempt to crush the common foe (and win Walkleys) – while on the other, Fairfax MD Greg Hywood appears to be leading the charge on this “competitive neutrality” idea. Doesn’t make much sense does it?

  4. Harshreality

    The report is not worth the paper it is written on. The ABC is left biased and is controlled by the far left biased audience who are the only ones watching it. What the ABC needs is good management and Guthrie should be the first to resign.

    Anyone to go on the defensive about the Liberal motion to sell the ABC instead of being prepared to sit down and address genuine concerns with such stakeholders shows a lack of respect for all Australians from the far left to the far right and a sense of entitlement.

    Perhaps what needs to happen to the ABC/SBS is the choice for Australian tax payers to opt in to subsidizing the government broadcasters which would then force the ABC/SBS to show content and employ staff to reflect the diversity of the views of Australians not their inner city Greens/ALP friends if they want to be adequately funded.

    • “The ABC is left biased …”

      20-odd government & independent inquiries and reviews in the last 30-odd years say you’re wrong.

      Got some evidence – not just parroted opinion – to the contrary? Then you should’ve submitted it to one of those enquiries…

      • Harshreality

        So where are the ABC staff/content that are pro Trump, Israel, one nation, christianity and against climate change? They simply do not exist. As for examples where do we start. Tony Jones allowing Van Badham record time to rant on q&a whilst cutting guests who he disagrees with, the constant bashing of former PM now back bencher Tony Abbott on Insiders and Media Watch (should be renamed Murdoch Bash) obsession with News Limited and Sky News.

        As for reports who is paying for them? Independent by a leftist think tank? Reports can be written to support any nonsense just take the bad advice and predictions made by so called environmental experts about climate change their numbers were grossly exaggerated which caused our governments to over invest on such things as desalination plants and so on.

        • You are making a fundamental mistake. It’s not ABC role to have the opinion but to moderate the questions. All the topics you list are given airtime by those arguing for and against, on TV and radio. If they cross the line there are breaches as seen recently.

        • So I take it that’s a big “No” to my question, then?

          But to be polite and answer your questions: most of those 20-odd enquiries were either conducted by Liberal-National Coalition governments, or ‘independent’ reviewers appointed and paid for by those governments. And not one of them has found any evidence of the sort of systemic ‘bias’ you claim is rampant in the ABC.

          So, again, I ask you: Have you got any actual evidence, not just parroted opinion delivered as if by a Bolt from the blue? If you have, then I suggest you submit it to the next enquiry rather than just ranting impotently on a TV blog…

          • eastwest101

            Its a pattern of behavior well established and two recent examples, such as the sloppy work by Emma Alberici and the comments by Andrew Probyn. Just two of the most recent examples – I haven’t seen any consequences for these departures from editorial standards or breaches of the broadcasting codes of practice.

            ASIC was quite happy with the way that AMP conducted their business right up until a few months ago, so your assertion that past enquiries haven’t come up with anything concrete is meaningless.

          • @eastwest101: So, still no evidence of rampant systemic bias – just a couple of anecdotes about errors that, in the end, were acknowledged/retracted by the ABC or censured by ACMA?

            If you’re really looking for “patterns of behaviour well established”, you’d be better turning your gaze to the behaviour, commentary, and bias coming from the commercial media. Or some commenters here who take every opportunity to insert an anti-ABC rant into any story…

            I’m also fairly sure that you can understand the difference between a government toothless regulatory body being ‘happy’ with their general oversight, and the government itself looking hard on dozens of occasions for specific evidence and not finding any – which makes that part of your comment both disingenuous and irrelevant.

  5. ABC/SBS has become a behemoth, with too many AM, FM & TV stations. For the casual user, trying to navigate their website for a program can be a traumatic experience. SBS is an expensive outdated relic of the 70′ in this day and age of being able to watch or listen to any program from anywhere in the world.
    If there is an outback community that has no access to radio or TV, the ABC should spend millions to supply it as was once their purpose. A plethora of ABC radio and TV stations in capital cities is ridiculous.

      • Harshreality

        Low rating radio stations catering specifically to the niche market. The far left should learn to pay for specialized content just like the rest of us in the era of online music/radio streaming.

        In fairness, the ABC/SBS have grown from one TV broadcast channel each to several since the digital TV era so reducing the number of radio stations whilst maintaining the current digital channels is not so bad.

      • 2PB, 2EA, 2SBSFM, Double J, 2ABC, SBS Pop Asia, SBS Radio 2, SBS Radio 3
        ABC23, ABC24, ABC JAZZ 201, Food Network, NITV, That’s for starters, it’s not a comprehensive list..

        • More than half of your “not a comprehensive list” aren’t even ABC stations (and yes, the question you answered was specifically asking about “ABC radio and TV channels”…)

          Good try, though. 6/13 – must try harder and avoid padding answers next time…

  6. Funnily enough Guthrie ignores the one actual charges made against the ABC. That it poached contracts for commercial news services with subsidised services and is subsidising left wing print media to damage News Corp. Instead she claims benefit that have nothing-what-so-ever to do with competitive neutrality, which she claims to support, to justify violating it.

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