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ABC acknowledges program bias

This material refers to an ABC program for children called Backgrounder on Lebanon 

ECAJ has given permission to reproduce the letter of apology received today (1st August, 2006) by the ECAJ. This text was apparently sent to all the multitudinous complainants on this issue. Here it is.



Thank you for your email regarding a story broadcast on the ABC's Behind the News program about the current crisis in Lebanon.

While the intention of this story was to communicate a most complex situation to a young audience, the ABC acknowledges that the content failed to meet the requirements of balance and impartiality.  The story has been removed from the ABC website.  The content is currently being reviewed and revised material will be posted in due course.

Regretfully, in its attempt to be simple and concise, this story did not represent key relevant viewpoints effectively.  Some of the descriptions were over-simplistic and inappropriate.

Behind the News has an important and significant role to play in bringing complex issues to young audiences.  The editorial standards of accuracy, impartiality and balance are key benchmarks of the program's success.  The specific errors in judgment in relation to this particular story are regrettable and not indicative of the program's overall high standards.

Thank you for bringing this matter to the attention of the ABC.

Yours sincerely

Denise Musto,
Audience Liaison Manager,
ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs

At 4pm today (1/08/06) Senator Ronaldson issued this Media release. His email address is 

Media Release


Senator Michael Ronaldson welcomed the ABC apology to Mr Leonard of the ECAJ over the bias contained in last weeks Behind the News program and called on the ABC to adopt a proactive approach to abide by its charter commitments and descriptive guidelines.

“I welcome the ABC’s apology and their removal of the ‘Israel bombing’ transcript and video from BtN’s website” Senator Ronaldson said.

“The ABC must now go further. BtN must screen a report next week correcting last weeks story.”

“Rather than merely waiting for yet another instance of program bias and community outrage the ABC must also immediately adopt a proactive approach to abide by their charter and prevent further breaches.”

“Bias and misrepresentation has no place in current affairs reporting and certainly not in educational programs. Truth must never be sacrificed for the sake of simplicity. The education of our children is far too important.”

Senator Ronaldson called on the ABC to abide by its charter and do the right thing by the Australian people.

“The ABC and BtN have a responsibility to live up to high standards of balance and impartiality prescribed by the ABC’s charter.” Senator Ronaldson said.

“At the Budget Estimates hearing in May the ABC conceded that Hezbollah and Hamas were terrorist organisations. The ABC must now act in good faith towards all Australians and conform to their own descriptive policies in their news and current affairs reporting.” Senator Ronaldson concluded.

At 11 am this morning ICJS received this media release from Senator Ronaldson.

ABC Lets down Australian Students with Breach of Charter 

Media Release

Senator Michael Ronaldson has condemned last weeks Behind The News program on ABC TV for its blatant misrepresentation of the current middle-east conflict and called for the program to immediately provide a balanced account of the conflict.

The Behind the News (BtN) program of 25 July 2006 misrepresented crucial historical points and mislead students by omitting important facts relevant to current events.

"The lamentable conflict in the middle-east is one no-one would wish for" Senator Ronaldson said.

“Presenting it to the impressionable young minds of students demands particularly high standards of objectivity and accuracy. Standards which BtN and the ABC appear to have fallen short of yet again.”

“Biased reporting of the middle-east situation is deplorable at any time. When such bias shapes the opinions of young and impressionable Australians it can be construed as disgraceful and negligent.” Senator Ronaldson said.

“BtN’s report entitled ‘Israel Bombing’ is bereft of any balanced discussion of the historical legacy of the middle-east conflict and fails to explore the many challenges faced by Israel and Lebanon in their shared desire for peace.”

“At Senate estimates earlier this year the ABC conceded Hezbollah was a terrorist organisation” Senator Ronaldson observed.

“This week BtN gave legitimacy to these terrorists in the minds of Australian kids by describing them as soldiers in direct contravention of ABC reporting standards” Senator Ronaldson said.

“Incidents like these should concern all Australian parents and raise questions over the ABC’s commitment to its charter and providing balanced reporting, especially for our children.”

“I call on the ABC to immediately retract the story from the BtN website and provide the full story on the middle-east conflict to Australian students at the earliest opportunity” Senator Ronaldson said.


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