The ABC and Bias

Essay by XykonUniversity, Bachelor'sB, June 2004

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The larger of Australia's two public broadcasters, the Australian Broadcasting Commission began operations on the 1st of July 1932 after an official inauguration by Prime Minister Joseph Lyons. In the early days, the ABC controlled twelve radio stations, with many still currently in operation. Despite having conducted this vast radio network for many years, it wasn't until 1956 that the commission aired the first television transmission to the nation. In 1983, the commission was transformed into a corporation under the rightfully labelled 'ABC act', which was the catalyst for making the national broadcaster what it is today.

As the nation's only major public broadcaster (the Special Broadcasting Service rarely catches even a glance from mainstream audiences), the ABC serves an important purpose in Australian culture. Its principal task as stated by the ABC act is to air "programs that contribute to a sense of national identity and inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of, the Australian community" (Australia 6).

In addition, the corporation has set up an internal complaints board called the Independent Complaints Review Panel (ICRP) to look into "allegations of serious cases of bias, lack of balance or unfair treatment arising from an ABC broadcast" (Australian Broadcasting Corporation 104).

From time to time, the ABC has been accused of serious bias that has been potentially damaging to governments. Both the Hawke and Keating Labor governments were rumoured to have had a grudge against the corporation for this reason. Perhaps this was the basis for a cumulative $120 million being slashed from the ABC budgets in the 1980's and early 1990's (Maclean)? Further still, the current Liberal/National Coalition government cut $55 million from the budget in its first year in office (Mac). The question now is, does the ABC really have a problem with...