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Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is an Australian broadcasting network owned by the Australian government. The corporation runs national and local radio networks, television channels, a network of shops selling ABC and other merchandise, and an extensive web-site. The ABC also operates Australia's international radio broadcaster Radio Australia, as well as, controversially, having the contract to run Australia's official international television broadcaster, Australia Network.

The ABC has the nickname "Aunty".

Contents

Structure

The ABC is governed by a board of up to seven government-appointed directors, and this board in turn appoints the managing director of the ABC.[1]

Stations

The ABC operated four television channels, known as ABC1, ABC2, ABC3, and ABCNews24, the last being a continuous news service.

It also operates a range of national and local radio services, including Radio National, several music networks catering to different styles of music (some only on digital radio), and News Radio, which is at peak listening times is continuous news service, except when the federal parliament is sitting, at which times it broadcasts the parliament. At other times, it rebroadcasts programming from the BBC, NPR, or other broadcasters.

Much of the radio content is also available for listening to on-line as it's being broadcast, and some of the radio and television content can also be heard or viewed on-line after being broadcast.

History

The ABC began in 1932, when the Australian Government nationalised an existing radio network. With the advent of television broadcast in 1956, the ABC launched its own television network. This was expanded to include digital stations when that technology was adopted in Australia in 2005.

Australia Network tendering controversy

The ABC was operating the official international television broadcaster, Australia Network, when the federal government decided to call tenders to operate the network for a period of ten years, with a contract worth $223 million.

The two broadcasters who bid for the network were the ABC, and Sky News. However, following leaks to the media that the tender panel had twice unanimously recommended Sky News as the successful tenderer, the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy first referred the leaks to the Australian Federal Police, then, without waiting for that investigation to conclude, decided that the tender process had been compromised and the ABC would therefore retain the right to run the network, indefinitely. The Auditor General subsequently investigated the matter and concluded that although the Minister had the right to do what he did, there were problems with the process.

The manner and circumstances in which this high profile tender process was conducted brought into question the Government’s ability to deliver such a sensitive process fairly and effectively.[2]

Presenters

Some of the more notable presenters on ABC programs are:

Bias

Political bias

A number of commentators have criticised the broadcaster's persistent left-wing bias. Gerard Henderson said that "The taxpayer funded public broadcaster still does not have one conservative presenter or producer or editor or commentator for any of its significant television, or radio or on-line products."[5]

Andrew Bolt has documented that there is an overwhelming lean to the left on the ABC's Insiders current affairs program.[6]

A study by Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh[7] purported to show that most media in Australia stays close to a "centrist" position, not favouring either of the two main political parties, but that the greatest "slant" was by ABC television towards the Coalition (conservative) side of politics. However, the methodology of the study was questioned,[8][9] in that one of its measures was how many times the media mentioned selected ‘public intellectuals’ who were classified by the study as favouring one side of politics or the other based on which political party made the most reference to them in parliament, rather than directly measuring how each media outlet covered a variety of political issues. Further, its analysis of television stations was limited to news programs, thereby ignoring any bias in other programming.

In May 2003 the Communications Minister, Senator Richard Alston, complained to the ABC's managing director that a report by its radio current affairs program AM on the war in Iraq was biased. The complaint was investigated by the ABC, which upheld two of Alston's 68 specific complaints. Alston was not unsatisfied, so the ABC referred the complaints to an independent panel for review. This panel upheld a further 15 complaints, and ruled that twelve of them constituted serious bias.[10]

Religious and moral bias

Gerard Henderson has said that "the ABC is replete with disillusioned Catholics and alienated ex-Catholics who disagree with the Church’s teachings on sexual morality."[11]

Jonathan Sarfati says that the ABC "has a long history of anti-Christian bigotry—some may even call it Christian vilification."[12] Former journalist Cameron Horn has documented numerous cases of the ABC being very biased in their coverage of the creation/evolution issue.[13]

Any Christians that the ABC does have on its shows are almost always ones who are prepared to accommodate secular views. For example, a February 2013 program included atheist cosmologist Lawrence Krauss and Christian historian John Dickson. The latter repeatedly agreed with Krauss rather than defending a biblical view of history.[14]

The Science Show, on Radio National, presented by atheist Robyn Williams, has on numerous occasions criticised biblical creation, but has never invited a creationist on to the show to defend that point of view. In fact, when the show had Eugenie Scott on the program, it attempted to justify such bias, on the grounds that there is no disagreement over evolution.[15]

The ABC's dealing with creationists has been biased. In January 1989, Ian Plimer, on one of Robyn Williams' programs, accused the Creation Science Foundation (CSF, now Creation Ministries International) of financial impropriety. CSF provided the ABC with a copy of a letter from the Office of the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs refuting Plimer's claim, leading to the ABC issuing an on-air apology to CSF, one of two occasions this happened. Plimer, however, never apologised.[16] Yet in 1994, the ABC broadcast an episode of its flagship current affairs program, 4 Corners, again featuring Plimer criticising creationists.

In September 1992, the ABC invited Andrew Snelling to be part of an on-air debate with two evolutionists, one being from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the other yet to be decided. As a two-on-one debate was hardly fair, CSF offered to make it a two-on-two debate, with Carl Wieland also participating, and also subject to the condition that the evolutionists not be associated with the Australian Skeptics, as that group had not been ethical in their criticisms of creationists. The ABC agreed to this. However, when the debate started, with no further prior advice on who the second evolutionist was, the two creationists found that they would now be debating three evolutionists, one being associated with the Australian Skeptics.[17]

References

  1. The ABC Board, Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  2. Administration of the Australia Network Tender Process, Australian National Audit Office.
  3. Muehlenberg, Bill, When Our Media Elite Discuss Jesus, Sat. 25th May, 2019Sat. May 25th, 2019.
  4. Tim Elliott, Making radio waves, The Sydney Morning Herald, Tue. 13th March, 2012Tue. March 13th, 2012.
  5. Henderson, Gerard, Stop Press : Karina Carvalho (chanelling Bob Brown) V Greg Hunt On News Breakfast This Morning, Media Watch Dog issue 161, The Sydney Institute, Fri. 2nd November, 2012Fri. November 2nd, 2012.
  6. Bolt, Andrew, Who’s on the Left in the Insiders pen, Fri. 18th May, 2012Fri. May 18th, 2012.
  7. Joshua S. Gans and Andrew Leigh, How Partisan is the Press? Multiple Measures of Media Slant, The Economic Record, Vol. 88, No. 280, March, 2012, 127–147.
  8. Gerard Henderson, Correspondence – On Academics and Urinals and Other Serious Matters, Media Watch Dog No. 29, Fri. 25th September, 2009Fri. September 25th, 2009.
  9. Tobias Ziegler, Things I learned this week from the Media Watch Dog, Crikey, Fri. 4th September, 2009Fri. September 4th, 2009.
  10. Review of 68 complaints made by the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, carried out at the request of the Managing Director of the ABC..
  11. Henderson, Gerard, Can You Bear It? – A Special Pope-focused Edition, Media Watch Dog No. 174, The Sydney Institute, Fri. 15th March, 2013Fri. March 15th, 2013.
  12. Sarfati, Jonathan, Atheists Blast Christianity, Mon. 19th April, 2004Mon. April 19th, 2004.
  13. Horn, Cameron, An Aunty in the Business, ch. 12 of Science V Truth, Fuzzcap Production, 1997, ISBN 0 9577062 0 0.
  14. A Show About Nothing, Q&A, ABC1, Mon. 18th February, 2019Mon. February 18th, 2019.
  15. See Creation-evolution controversy#Claiming that there is no debate.
  16. Our point-by-point rebuttal of Plimer’s Book, notes for p.62 and p.159.
  17. Our point-by-point rebuttal of Plimer’s Book, notes for p.187-188.
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