It was “problematic” and biased for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. to call former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott “the most destructive politician of his generation,” the Australian broadcast regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority ruled.
The comment was inappropriate because it was a “comment on Mr Abbott’s political career generally, rather than a comment specific to his involvement with climate change policy.” The comment was made by ABC political editor Andrew Probyn in Oct. 2017 in a news report on Abbott’s climate change speech.
While Probyn’s “destructive” comment was inappropriate, the report itself “demonstrated fair treatment and open-mindedness by providing the audience with a number of the views Mr Abbott had expressed over the last eight years for consideration and comparison,” ACMA’s investigation found. ACMA declined to comment to iMediaEthics beyond its investigation.
In response, the ABC said the comment was an analysis and in context, telling the complainant “we are satisfied that his conclusion was backed by demonstrable evidence and based on professional expertise and judgement.”
iMediaEthics has written to the ABC to ask if the comment in question was scripted or made off-the-cuff, and how many complaints it received over the report.
The comment broke impartiality guidelines.”The impartiality provisions in the ABC’s own code require it to demonstrate balance and fair treatment when presenting news, and avoid conveying a prejudgement,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin is quoted by an ACMA press release as saying. “This is only the second breach by the ABC of its impartiality rules since 2011. While this demonstrates strong compliance with these important provisions of the code, the ABC did not get it right on this occasion.”
Hat Tip: The Guardian