ABC to move closer to the Ministry of Truth

16 Oct

Revisit my entry Miranda Devine here from the Ministry of Truth and then read New test against bias imposed on programs in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. It would appear that the more the ABC comes to resemble Quadrant the more “impartial” it will be deemed to be, and this is not, as it would have seemed at one time, a joke. This is deadly serious culture warring on the part of the culture warriors who feed from and faithfully reflect the world-view of the Great Grey Garden Gnome of Kirribilli House who squats on our body politic like some malevolent cane toad. Not that I am in the least biased, of course. But just read these grabs from the Herald article:

THE ABC faces its biggest cultural shake-up in 20 years when it announces today that programs from chat shows to science debates will have to achieve new standards of impartiality, actively fight “bias” and present more diverse opinions on the network…

Under the guidelines, a wide range of factual shows from children’s television to religious programs will have to meet stringent standards, similar to those on impartiality already in place for ABC news and current affairs.

The changes will open the ABC to far greater pressure from lobby groups wanting to complain about its coverage of contentious scientific and social issues such as global warming, children’s vaccinations and sexual mores.

The changes, driven by the ABC board, will also affect ABC radio announcers such as Virginia Trioli, Richard Glover, Fran Kelly and Phillip Adams, who will be under greater scrutiny, as well as programs like The Science Show, The Health Report and television documentaries…

At one point, board members were demanding that satirical shows like The Chaser should be subjected to the “impartiality” test. One insider said “there was a moment where it looked like satire was gone” because the guidelines were so strict it could not be produced. Another told the Herald it was “a hell of a battle to stop it being too awful”.

In the final draft, both performance programs such as The Chaser and opinion programs were exempted, although the ABC is committed to broadcasting a range of opinions.

Long-time program makers are worried the guidelines will make ABC documentaries bland. Some members of the board were anxious to extend the guidelines to documentaries after the ABC broadcast Outfoxed, a program critical of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News. One ABC manager told the Herald that under the new guidelines “the pre-emptive buckle will achieve a new ascendancy”.

And this cave-in to the exceedingly biased new board members is presented as a “compromise”? I wonder if new standards of impartiality will turn out to be shocking new standards of partiality? Will we be treated to even more of the whackos and juvenile rightists who so often infest Michael Duffy’s Counterpoint?

Want to see the future? Then visit Murdoch’s Australian today for yet another well-timed opinion piece: Rudi Michelson: Privatise the ABC. “With its poor performance, entrenched ideological bias and ‘Vietcong-style’ industrial strife, surely it’s time we sold the public broadcaster.”

The ABC is becoming less relevant and less credible. It started out with roughly 50 per cent market share of Australian media in 1932; today its total media market share must be 5 per cent or less. The Government has a clear role to regulate media, but there is no compelling reason why it should own and operate an entertainment business.

Did you ever see a more glaring abuse of history, statistics, and sheer logic than that paragraph manages to achieve in just sixty words? Quite an achievement, Rudi. You should be proud.

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5 responses to “ABC to move closer to the Ministry of Truth

  1. Sovereign John

    October 16, 2006 at 9:59 am

    Interesting post. I guess taking the Faux News approach ain’t working out so well.

  2. Renegade Eye

    October 16, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    It seems to be a matter of the ABC caving in to the right. It should be fought.


  3. ninglun

    October 16, 2006 at 3:15 pm

    You’d better believe it will be, but we have an amazingly determined and ruthless (politely though) Prime Minister, who still believes in Old Uncle Don Rumsfeld and George and Dick and all the US’s “A” team… Even though a leading General here, Peter Cosgrove, has just joined the ranks of the sane and admits that Iraq has increased rather than not the terrorists’ “war on us”. Good man, Cosgrove, and I mean that, even if politically he is with rather than against our current PM. But he is honest.

    You can only imagine what such a man as our PM sees as “impartiality”!

  4. ninglun

    October 17, 2006 at 8:57 am

    See Anonymous Lefty on this.

    Frankly, it’s very easy to see where the ABC is going wrong. Their TV Guide is full of shows which should be axed or severely changed. The Glass House should sack those talentless hack soft lefties and replace them with, say, Tim Blair and his team of witty commenters. Question Time should be replaced with Gagged Debate “Let’s Vote Quietly On This Glorious Legislation” Hour. And Media Watch should be replaced with Media Watch Presenters Watch, in which the tables are turned on Monica Attard and her predecessors and they are whipped through the streets by Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones (but not in a gay way).

    Anyway, I’m just glad that finally conservatives in this country are going to cast off the yoke of ABC oppression and have their own voice. They have suffered far too long already.

    Just the end of a long and withering post! And don’t laugh too loudly. This morning The Herald reports:

    …Mr Scott announced a new program to be hosted by Jeff McMullen next year, called A Difference of Opinion.

    He acknowledged the difficulties. “Are we going to make mistakes? Of course we will. We’ll never put our critics out of business, but through these policies, we can reduce the opportunities. In many ways, we’re putting up umbrellas before it rains. All in all [it is] a massive rod for our own backs. A weapon our critics can beat us with.

    In the print edition you will find this sentence after “A Difference of Opinion”:

    And the format and content of Media Watch would be reviewed next year to allow “more debate and discussion” of contentious issues.

    An interesting censoring of the online edition, isn’t it?

  5. ninglun

    October 19, 2006 at 7:59 am

    See a right-wing reaction to this issue, with comments by Arthur Vandelay.

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