The Guardian • Issue #1965


ABC under attack

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #1965

The ABC’s integrity is being destroyed. For example, the network was expected to run a Four Corners episode by prominent journalist Louise Milligan about the relationship between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Tim Stewart, who was one of Australia’s most prominent QAnon adherents (as measured by Twitter followers).

However, ABC managing director David Anderson decided to pull the episode in what the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) has qualified as “a decision that could be seen as an attempt to dampen tensions between the national broadcaster and the federal government.”

Though, according to an ABC spokesperson, “[t]he ABC did not ‘pull’ a story from broadcast. Any suggestion to the contrary is misleading and mischievous.”

ABC sources, who spoke anonymously to the SMH, have provided a different story stating that “the decision was made days after […] [news director Gaven] Morris received a call from the Prime Minister’s office.”

This is not the first time members of the Coalition have challenged the national broadcaster.

Just last month, Industry Minister Christian Porter dropped his defamation action against the ABC and Milligan for its reporting of a rape allegation. While the case is now being settled, the ABC still has not only its costs to pay but the mediation and other related costs as well. Unnecessary expenditure for the ABC, whose only “crime” was reporting on a story worthy of the attention it garnered.

The ABC, as our national broadcaster, shouldn’t have to “dampen” tensions. It should be able to report on all matters without having to be concerned about attacks or being undermined by political parties. However, these confrontations naturally lead the ABC to censor its journalists, as evident with the Four Corners story.

But it’s not just its reporting and editorial content that are under threat – the institution’s budget is also being slashed. In last month’s budget, the Morrison government handed out an extra $58.6mil to the media sector in the budget. SBS ($30mil), the Australian Associated Press ($15mil), community broadcasting ($8mil), and the media regulator ($4.2mil) all received funding. However, the ABC was conspicuously left out. As a result, the ABC’s operational funding fell by $10mil from $880mil in 2021-22 to $870mil in 2022-23.

Speaking on the budget exclusion, former ABC senior bureaucrat Michael Ward stated that:

“The ABC seems to be now completely excluded from policy thinking and funding. Funding for regional news, local content and Australian children’s programs is extremely important. However, it is hard to understand the decision to continue to exclude the ABC from these arrangements.”

The ABC relies on government funding to do its job, but it’s a job that the Coalition does not want it to do. By cutting funding, the Coalition has found ways to make the ABC not do its job and put it in a position to comply with its requests or face further cuts.

The Communists, the CPA’s electoral expression, would put money back in the ABC – no strings attached – because it believes the national broadcaster should work for the people. However, we need your help with registration. By registering with us, we will make sure your voice is heard. Register here to support The Communists:

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