Is Australia Broadcasting Corp’s Chinese site “bowing to censorship?” Australia’s media watchdog program said it thinks it is, reporting that it found cases where the Chinese site, Australia Plus, either didn’t translate stories critical of China or edited stories to remove criticism of China.
Essentially Media Watch found that Australia Plus’s coverage of China in China has become more fluffy and less hard-hitting, as opposed to the coverage Australian Broadcasting Corp. offers readers and viewers outside of China.
The ABC’s AustraliaPlus.cn allows it to be available to “720 million internet users,” Media Watch said, noting that previous reports in the Australian Financial Review criticized the deal because it meant ABC would follow China’s censorship rules.
After Media Watch’s reporting, ABC conceded Media Watch was correct in finding problems in the Australia Plus reporting. “We acknowledge the examples presented by Media Watch identify failures in our editorial processes. As noted, ABC International is working closely with the ABC Editorial Director and ABC People to address these matters,” the ABC told Media Watch.
When asked if there was any review in place regarding the improper editing, the ABC told iMediaEthics “ABC International is consulting the relevant staff with representatives from ABC EdPols and ABC People.”
The ABC told Media Watch May 6 that “the ABC retains full editorial control” and that China can’t “direct the ABC to remove or change politically sensitive material or news content.”
Further ABC argued that it’s coverage on its Chinese site isn’t supposed to be news but more features. “The .cn site is not intended to be a news website or to be presented as such,” the ABC told Media Watch. “Its aim is to provide a window to Australian life, stories, values and culture and to encourage engagement between the two countries,” ABC said, noting that its international website has the stories which can be translated to Chinese.
The Australia Plus’ website About Us page says it is “covering news and sport, business, lifestyle, education and English language learning from an Australian perspective.”