Thursday, February 6

Claims about ABC lack credibility


In “ABC pays price for not being more wary” (AFR, February 4) Tim Wilson concludes: “My view is that the ABC should be scaled back to services that do not compete with commercial providers, especially because it is leading to a multi-platform concentration of media power funded by taxpayers”.
He says the ABC reporters “should have been more wary of the legitimacy of the claims” against the Navy. “Free speech comes with consequences and the ABC is now paying the reputational damage price for not being more wary. If people disagree, they should express a counter view.” But Wilson’s claims lack credibility given ABC government funding has not increased in real terms, but its news reporting has expanded. It has subjected political and commercial interests to scrutiny, to avoid the risks of bias when too much media power rests in commercial networks subject to sponsor and advertiser pressures.
There are many instances of investigative journalism by the ABC unlikely to have been undertaken by commercial networks.
Furthermore, the idea the ABC has blotted its copybook because it didn’t report both angles more thoroughly in relation to the alleged mistreatment of boat people by the Navy is due entirely to the enforced secrecy.
The absence of any detailed information or responses by authorities prevented alternative views being presented. In such circumstances the only way to remain patriotic would be to report nothing, which is not in the public nor the broadcaster’s best interest.

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