ABC to review complaints system

ABC Board appoints Prof. John McMillan & Jim Carroll to review its complaints processes and accountability.

The ABC Board has commissioned an independent review of the broadcaster’s editorial self-regulatory system and complaints handling.

It will be headed by Professor John McMillan, former Commonwealth and NSW Ombudsman and Jim Carroll, former SBS Director – News and Current Affairs and Head of News and Public Affairs for the 10 Network.

The review will examine the issue: How well does the ABC manage external complaints and feedback about compliance with ABC editorial standards? It will also consider training, remedies and actions taken, resourcing and the handling of other audience responses that may have a bearing on the standards.

It follows headlines around recent complaints including Communications Minister Paul Fletcher urging the broadcaster to “consider whether the existing complaints process is functioning as it should.”

ABC Chair Ita Buttrose said, “The ABC’s role as an independent public broadcaster is integral to the strength of our democracy. That role requires the most robust of accountability processes. I am pleased both Professor McMillan and Mr Carroll have agreed to bring their significant skills and experience to this review.”

ABC Managing Director David Anderson said, “The ABC’s commitment to the highest editorial standards and stringent complaints processes are why it remains one of the nation’s most trusted public institutions. This review will assist the ABC to maintain its commitment to continuous quality improvement.”

Terms of reference are as follows:

  • The adequacy of the ABC Editorial Policies and ABC Code of Practice for upholding the requirements of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 (Cth).
  • The suitability of the ABC complaint process for receiving and managing complaints relating to ABC editorial standards.
  • Measures taken by the ABC to inform the public about the ABC complaint process.
  • Whether complaints relating to ABC editorial standards are dealt with efficiently, fairly and reasonably.
  • Whether appropriate actions are taken and remedies provided for breaches of ABC editorial standards.
  • Measures taken by the ABC to ensure the organisation and its staff are fully informed about complaints and complaint outcomes.
  • Measures taken by the ABC to ensure that the complaint process is tied to continuous improvement in ABC editorial standards, and feeds into standards-setting, training and day-to-day content-making.
  • Measures taken by the ABC to provide information and training to staff and independent service and content providers about ABC editorial standards.
  • Whether the capabilities and resourcing of teams responsible for complaint processes are fit for purpose.
  • Measures taken by the ABC to ensure public transparency about complaints and complaint outcomes.
  • Measures taken by the ABC for receiving and managing audience responses (other than complaints) that have a bearing on the standards.

The last review was in 2009 by Maurice Newman and Paul Chadwick.

The panel is expected to report back in March 2022.

One Response

  1. So it turns that their line that there is no problem with their complaints procedure and all complaints are just political attacks on the ABC is no longer believed. About time. But still no fixing up of the editorial policy to make is simple and clear, no experienced journalist as Editor-In-Chief and no enforcement of the policy. Some SBS has always managed to do this.

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