NOV 29, 2016
STOP USING THE ABC AND SBS AS POLITICAL PAWNS
NATIONAL BODY REJECTS MINISTER USING PUBLIC BROADCASTING IN SENATE NEGOTIATIONS.
“It is unconscionable for the Minister for Communications,Senator Mitch Fifield, to use the ABC and SBS as pawns in negotiating political outcomes in the Senate,” said ABC Friends National President Margaret Reynolds, in Hobart today.
“Initially, I thought the suggestion from Senator Leyonhjelm that linked legislative changes to the operations of Australian public broadcasting to his support for totally unrelated industrial legislation marked the beginning of the “silly season.”
“But sadly,” the former Senator and government minister said, “I was wrong, and the government is so desperate to gain support of an extra senator that it has apparently submitted to this latest demand.”
“Government pressure and interference on the management and boards jeopardises independent Australian public broadcasters’ freedom to operate without political interference – and in, the case of the ABC, is in direct conflict to its current Charter.”
“The ABC already has many problems as its management deals with severe funding cuts imposed by the Coalition Government in recent years,” Ms. Reynolds said.
“Minister Fifield would be better engaged in tackling some of the real challenges that face public broadcasting in a complex media environment.”
“Our fear,” Ms. Reynolds said, “is that political and some competing media pressure is influencing ABC management’s decision-making, with the result that programs are being aimed at attracting bigger audiences, with resultant loss of quality.”
“The ABC is Australia’s second most trusted public institution, so as it approaches its 85th year it must continue to set a gold standard for ethical, independent and quality broadcasting, whatever the platforms it uses.”