The question is: Can the ABC control its troops?
Introduction of a new Code of Practice by the ABC would need to be complemented by much stricter application of its Editorial Policies and News Division Style Guide if the public broadcasterʹs standards of objectivity and balance were to meet expectations, Liberal Senator Santo Santoro said today.
It is time to get the ABC a rule book that accurately reflects Australiansʹ beliefs about who is a terrorist and what constitutes terrorism. Itʹs time to get one that possesses the logical clarity it needs if ABC management is to enforce the standard of objectivity required by the ABCʹs Charter. And it is time to get one that the ABCʹs new independent complaints review process can back up and support,ʹ said Senator Santoro, a long‐time critic of the national broadcasterʹs bias and lack of balance in news and current affairs reporting.
Asking ABC Managing Director Russell Balding a series of questions at the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee Budget Estimates hearing, Senator Santoro highlighted a list of inconsistencies and errors past and present that, he said, reflected poorly on the ABC and the integrity of its editorial policies.
Citing the Beslan massacre in Russia (of hundreds of schoolchildren by Chechen terrorists) against reporting of a Palestinian terror attack on an Israeli bus in which 40 schoolchildren died, he asked Mr Balding:
Could you describe the difference between killing children in cold blood in a school in southern Russia and killing children in cold blood on a school bus in Jerusalem?
There is a double standard here that reflects no credit on the ABC and actively undermines its claims to objectivity. It lends weight to the perception that its broadcast stance is anti‐Israel. ABC management says it provides an objective, unbiased and balanced news and current affairs service. But on the evidence, again past and present, the jury is still out on the question of whether it can get on top of the obvious problems in the presentations we see and hear so often,ʹ Senator Santoro said.