The Federal Government today introduced two bills designed to change the ABC’s Charter and fulfil promises made during recent media law reform negotiations.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Fair and Balanced) Bill 2017 will put into action some of the demands made by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, and agreed during media law reform negotiations to get the minor party onside.
The proposals include the additions of the words ‘fair and balanced’ to the ABC Charter, which will complement the existing requirement that the national broadcaster should be ‘accurate and impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism’.
While both the Opposition and ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie have called the proposed changes ‘dangerous and unnecessary’, the Government argues the additions are inconsequential as similar wording is already included in the broadcaster’s editorial policies.
The ABC’s commitment to regional Australia will be formalised with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Rural and Regional Measures) Bill 2017. Championed by Senator Bridget McKenzie, the new bill seeks to ensure the ABC has a greater focus on the needs of rural and regional communities.
The Rural and Regional Measures Bill will also usher in One Nation’s inquiry into the ABC.
Commercial media leaders have been pushing for change to the ABC in regards to its charter and its content encroachment into commercial media spaces.
News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller welcomed changed to the ABC’s charter at this year’s INFORM News Media Summit, calling for a total overhaul to bring the organisation into the 21st century. This view was backed by Network 10 CEO Paul Anderson.