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I am not a censor, says ABC bias chief

Victoria’s first privacy commissioner, Paul Chadwick, will be the ABC’s first director of editorial policies. "Being first is not a problem, doing it well is the challenge," he said of the job already seen as the arbiter of perceived bias within the public broadcaster.

"During the selection process I made it clear that if the ABC wanted a chief censor, I did not want the job. The fact that it was offered and the fact I accepted reflected the understanding that this is not a chief censor role."

Mr Chadwick said the position made sense personally, given the path of his career and his belief that media self-regulation was important to ensure independence.

The former print journalist, lecturer and lawyer is a popular choice. He has extensive experience in framing public policy, including a crucial role in revising the Australian Journalists Association code of ethics in the 1990s, which proved a forerunner for the ABC's editorial guidelines. He wrote the acclaimed 1989 book Media Mates, about the carve-up of the industry and its supremacy over government in the mid-1980s.

Mr Chadwick, who will be paid between $280,000 and $340,000 a year, said it was too early to know how his position would communicate with the ABC board or the federal Government. He will report directly to ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott and be based in Melbourne.

Mr Chadwick's chief duty will be to oversee the implementation of the ABC's new editorial policies, to take effect in March.

"My role is to contribute to making those policies better understood and consistently applied - within that is lots of detailed work and lots of attention to context," he said.

He had no problem with the policies but expected them to evolve, he said.

"What the role does is take its place among the directors of the ABC to contribute to the continual task of improving the standards. The policies themselves are constantly up for review, so where they can be improved and amended they are. I think that's healthy for any professional body, for any set of professional standards."

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