Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The ABC of bias

Full credit - and lots of luck - to Mark Scott, Janet Albrechtsen and Keith Windschuttle for trying to sweep the bias from out of the ABC.

Unsurprisingly, anti-change agents were quick to jerk knees, as noted in The Australian article New ABC boss vows no more bias:

"This is outrageous. It's just another attack upon the ABC and its independence," said Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Stephen Jones. "It's also a little bit demoralising.
One needs no more than Union outrage to confirm it is a great idea.

However, two sentences in the same article seem at odds with each other. First:
ABC managing director Mark Scott last night admitted the national broadcaster had to respond to claims it was politically biased in its news, current affairs and other programming, by launching new editorial guidelines.
followed a little later by:
Mr Scott chose the conservative think tank run by ABC critic Gerard Henderson to unveil a tough new editorial policy that subjects all radio and television programs to the same editorial scrutiny as news and current affairs.
The first sentence implies there is bias in the news and current affairs which merits some response. The second sentence implies the focus of change is on radio and television programs and not on news and current affairs.

Will news and current affairs remain unchanged and therefore biased? And will other programs be brought up - or should that be down - to the level of news and current affairs?

Another positive move is outlined in The Age's article, If ABC stands for Applying Better Control, it's not enough:
The main changes include defining four categories of content — news and current affairs; topical and factual; opinion (a new category, previously part of factual); and performance (including music, drama and satire) — and the principles by which they must all abide.
The toughest is likely to be the topical and factual. For the ABC, this is unchartered territory.

No comments: