Thursday, May 30, 2002

Mike Nahan in The Australian lays out what is obvious to a lot of people who neither work for the ABC, or know people who work there. That is, the ABC has a consistent left of centre bias.

Now a certain number of people will wearily dispute this claim, so for those people, try this test:

When was the last time you heard something on the ABC that seriously challenged your personal values? Have you ever seen or heard anyone on the ABC tell you that capitalism was a good idea? How about a pro-mining program? Perhaps a sympathetic portrayal of a Liberal politician? Does the ABC Staff Association really expect us to believe they would have gone on strike if the Chairman of the ABC Board had attended an ALP function?

I personally watch the ABC for gob-smacking science programs, and some very funny local and overseas shows. But if you consider yourself a "progressive", and you think you'll encounter a new idea about the world's problems, then you're sadly mistaken. You'll be educated, informed and amazed at times. But you will rarely, if ever, see an ABC program that deviates from the company line.

And don't give me the bit about balancing commercial broadcasting. Firstly, there is no mandate in the ABC Charter to do this. In fact, the Charter specifically charges the Corporation to reflect the views of the Australian public. Given that the overwhelming majority of the electorate voted in favour of current immigration policies, it's hard to see them doing their job well.

Secondly, the "balancing" argument falls apart as soon as you consider what would happen in the event of a commercial drift to the left? Would Phillip Adams morph into Stan Zemanek (Rush Limbaugh for the US cousins). The idea is as silly as it sounds.

The ABC's one attempt with "the Continuing Crisis" failed due to an incredible lack of promotion, and reluctance to invest time or resources into a program that they were happy to see didn't rate immediately. Unless and until the ABC can point to announcers to counter the well-known bias of their commentators, they will remain open to and distracted by allegations of bias.

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