It’s their ABC: Why Australia’s ABC needs a major shake-up‏

Contributed article

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia’s national taxpayer-funded broadcaster, has found itself involved in a recent public furore, that has once again put the ABC’s political bias, and the credibility of the network, under the public spotlight.

There can be little doubt that there has been an endemic problem with entrenched socio-political bias at the national broadcaster for quite some time. Not one of the ABC’s main current affairs shows on TV or radio is hosted by a conservative. Every host of ABC TV’s “Media Watch” in its 24 year history has been of the political Left. According to a survey conducted by the University of the Sunshine Coast, more than 40 per cent of ABC journalists vote for The Greens.

Whilst some sources have called for a shake-up of management, some have suggested funding cuts, and others even full privatisation of the ABC; there’s no doubt something needs to be urgently done.

Stacking TV or radio panels with Left-leaning guests is one significant way that the ABC demonstrates its extreme and deliberate bias. This is extremely noticeable on the ABC’s flagship TV current affairs shows “QandA” and “Insiders”. This way, the public gets to hear a dominance of leftist views on the ABC, coming from often high-profile and influential opinion-makers. On ABC Radio National, the vast majority of guests are left-leaning social progressives. And it’s been that way for a very long time.

The latest public furore involves the ABC’s recent treatment of New Ltd journalist and Sky News Australia broadcaster Chris Kenny. Kenny was crudely and comically portrayed on ABC1’s comedy show “The Hamster Decides” with a Photoshopped image of him fornicating with a dog, and with the caption “Chris Kenny, Dog F**ker”.

Kenny has been an outspoken critic of the ABC, often referring to it as “their ABC”, a play on the ABC’s once frequently-used slogan “It’s your ABC”. Kenny has written of QandA that “The program regularly infuriates mainstream viewers because of its green/left bias, often manifested through an open-borders approach to the asylum-seeker issue, climate alarmism, campaigning for gay marriage and a preoccupation with such political ploys as the gender wars. What should be a terrific clearing house of national debate and ideas has become the temperature gauge of progressive bias at the national broadcaster”.

Whilst many Australians (including the author of this article) enjoy the Chaser/Hamster team’s substantial comic talents, and recognise that their style is to always push the boundaries, clearly their attack on Kenny was going too far. Kenny has been reported as having sought legal options for defamation action.

The ABC’s corporate affairs department told complainants the sketch “was likely to offend” viewers but was “legitimate satire” as it “had a clear editorial purpose and was ultimately considered to be justified in the context”.

The ABC came under fire from conservative sources for its coverage of the recent federal election. The ABC website hosted a “Vote Compass”, which the ABC heavily promoted, and which went on to record 1.3 million hits. The ABC Vote Compass was supposed to be an “educational tool”, and to inform participants as to which party their political views were apparently most in line with. Yet, participants were warned they may be “surprised” by where their attitudes line up.

Of course the questions for the Vote Compass were very selective, and only Labor, the Coalition, and The Greens were deemed important enough to be included in the compass. No other parties were given a run.

The ABC also set up a “Fact Checker” unit on its website, to also apparently assist voters. Head of this new Ministry of Truth was former Fairfax editor Russell Skelton, also a known Leftist, and known by some as “Red” Skelton (a reference to the late famous American actor of that name).

The arguments in favour of maintaining a national broadcaster are many. A national broadcaster can provide important services, and provide for niche markets of the type that would be unlikely to be covered by the commercial media. This would include broadcasting programmes that reflect and promote Australia’s rural communities and our unique and diverse culture. It can provide coverage of fields like science, philosophy, local and women’s sports, Paralympics, and the arts. It can provide quality programming of a less commercial nature, and it can provide Australian, as opposed to foreign content. It can also be useful in helping shape Australia’s unique national character.

Since the Hawke government renamed the Australian Broadcasting Commission back in 1984, to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the ABC has operated very much as its new name reflects; as a corporation.

Since we have moved into the internet age, and since digital broadcasting services have now replaced analogue, the ABC has been at the forefront in providing new services to consumers via the new technology.

The ABC employs some 500 journalists around Australia. It now boasts four national TV channels – ABC1; ABC2; a specialised Children’s channel, ABC3; and ABC24, a 24-hour news Channel.

In radio, the ABC has 46 local radio stations around the country, in addition to its four national networks and the international service Radio Australia. In addition, DiG Radio launched on digital platforms in 2002, offering three new stations, ABC Dig, ABC Jazz and ABC Country. And if you’re on the internet, well, the ABC also offers live streaming for all of its stations.

The ABC provides very substantial online content, including a vast and sophisticated website, and comprehensive news coverage, with up-to-the-minute news articles, as well as iview podcasts of selected TV programmes. It also maintains a vast social media presence to keep its audience engaged.

The ABC has amassed an operational revenue of well over $100m so far this year, from sales of DVDs, music, publishing and current affairs.

Critics of the ABC argue that, as the ABC expands the scope of its services, it “crowds out” the commercial media that, unlike the ABC, relies on the advertising dollar. Niche radio stations looking to provide “alternative” music struggle to compete with the ABC’s nationwide triple j station.

As the ABC (and its mostly taxpayer-funded fellow national broadcaster SBS) provide online news services for free, Australia’s commercial media struggles to compete. With its advertising revenue limited, commercial publisher News Limited made the move to introduce paid subscriptions for its online services, and now Fairfax has followed suit.

It would seem that the ABC has come a very long way from its original purpose. Now it effectively competes with, and sometimes even “crowds out” the commercial media. Far from merely catering to niche markets, or providing uncatered for services to an Australia-wide consumer base, it has become a publishing and broadcasting goliath.

The ABC has simply become too big for its boots. And it is simply not acceptable that a public broadcaster, which possesses as much scope as the ABC does, should display such a ridiculous amount of socio-political bias.

As Tony Abbott has said, Australia is now “under new management”, democratically elected by the Australian people. The ABC cannot be allowed to be a law unto itself, and to continue with it’s blatant anti-conservative bias. It should be accountable, like any public service.

This author believes that the ABC should be merged with fellow public broadcaster SBS, it should be considerably de-funded, and that considerable sections of the newly merged entity should be privatised. There should be a major purging of Leftist influence, and there should be a major shake-up of senior positions. Beginning at the very top, managing director Mark Scott should be shown the door.

Such badly-needed reforms were probably never going to happen under a federal Labor government, who undoubtedly benefited from the ABC’s leftist bias. So it is now up to Australia’s new Coalition government to recognise its responsibility to reform Australia’s public broadcaster, and to take this opportunity to do what very much needs to be done.

‘Tasteless’ Chaser sketch ‘within ABC guidelines’”, The Australian, 5 October 2013 (by Michael Bodey)
ABC radio: Listen Online: Live streaming”, ABC radio
List of ABC radio stations”, Wikipedia
Newspoll finds loss of faith in your ABC”, The Australian, 19 October 2013 (by Paul Cleary)
The ABC’s official response to the Chris Kenny Hamster Wheel complaints”, Michael Smith News, 5 October 2013
Chris Kenny to pursue Chaser team over dog skit despite ABC ruling”, Sydney Morning Herald, 4 October 2013 (by Nick Galvin)
ABC makes itself a political target”, The Australian, 2 July 2013 (by Chris Kenny)
Why the ABC should be privatised”, Quadrant, 1 May 2013 (by Tom Switzer)
Time for a “cleansing” of the ABC”, Herald Sun, 16 September 2013 (by Andrew Bolt)
Labor agrees with ABC that Liberals are wrong about ABC bias”, Herald Sun, 31 May 2013 (by Andrew Bolt)
ABC checks facts of others but does not check its own”, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 October 8, 2013 (by Gerard Henderson)
State Liberals propose privatising ABC, SBS”, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 May 2013 (by Josh Gordon)
The ABC says social media is now essential to its mission”, Michael Smith News, 18 October 2013
‘Our ABC’ – the Actual Bias Corporation? Or the Apprehended Bias Corporation?”, Senator Eric Abetz, 19 June 2013
FAQ’s – Our Story”, SBS [“The bulk of SBS funding – about 80 per cent – comes from Government appropriation”]


  1. Absolutely agree with Jim. The Murdoch press is also wildly biased and anti-Australian. The one thing that the ABC and Murdoch agree on is the sanctity of open borders. While the ABC prefers the unfettered movement of people, News Ltd prefers the unfettered movement of capital – but both are closely related. One is a sock puppet of the PC elite, the other a sock puppet to our treasonous corporate moguls. Both suck. Imagine this, if you can. A third, independent, internet only, news service. One that takes a nationalist position on both social and cultural matters. A bit like the ABC was in 1964. Too much to hope for?

  2. If we want to live in true democracy in Australia, we must have some balance in the media. We already have massive right-leaning outlets, thanks to Murdoch press. And because big-business money, like mining, are not going to sponsor anything left-leaning, there is no other way to have channels like ABC without taxpayers’ input.

    Of course, we can privatise ABC, or get rig of it, but then we will be left with 100% conservative media. And we all know that absence of opposition, whether it is left or right, will inevitably lead to propaganda, corruption and death of democracy. Do we rally want that?

    A photoshopped photo with some dog may be offensive, but let’s face it: dos conservative media always supply strictly facts and never distort anything? The key point is not in who leans left or right. The key is to have both political sides to be able to reach public. Only after people heard both opinions, they can make informed decision when they vote. And that is the difference between democracy and dictatorship.

    Personally, I do not lean left, and I disagree with ABC most of the time. But I do want to continue living in democracy. I spent a few years in a country ruled by a dictator (due to my work), and I know from my own experience that having no media that can voice a different opinion is not the way to go. I rather have a few my tax dollars go to ABC that live with a risk of one-sided propaganda.

    • Jim, Australia in the internet age, actually has a wide variety of media sources. Sure, there’s Murdoch, but there’s also plenty of Left-leaning sources – Laurie Oakes, Lisa Wilkinson,, Fairfax, SBS, The Project on Channel Ten. Ultimately, the commercial media has a right to be biased – people can always switch off or not buy it, but it’s a different kettle of fish with the ABC. It’s taxpayer-funded and the most wide-reaching of all; and its own charter states that it should strive for balance.

  3. The ABC is a lost cause. It is riddled with Marxists who have a cultural and racial death wish that would see this once great white country overrun with peoples from the third world. Such is their blind hatred of white Christian conservatives that they would rather this country were devoid of whites, including themselves, than for it to be governed by the people who made it great.

  4. I’m always baffled as to why the QandA panel is always made up of two lefties for every one conservative,and why this is never questioned.
    Rarely are the conservatives on the panel ever able to complete a sentence without constant interruption from leftwing panelists or audience members. The SMS bar at the bottom of the screen is full of messages from leftwing knobs who pretend to speak for the majority when they send retarded statements such as ‘We have an obligation to pretect these people under the U.N. refugee convention’.
    None of these people speak for me,or the majority of Australians.
    In the ABC’s defense,at least you can watch it without five minutes of noisy ads every two minutes,or sitting thru ‘reality’ shows which run overtime by ten minutes.
    But for the most part,they just talk nonsense,particularly when covering stories with a Muslim,refugee,climate change or gay rights angle.
    My taxes,but not my ABC.

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