Help us to safeguard our ABC – and also ensure it knows what we expect of it.
A National Movement commenced at the weekend of July 1/2 in Melbourne – the 85th Birthday of the ABC – to find out what Australians seek and expect from ‘their’ Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
And the survey has the support of ABC MD, Michelle Guthrie.
Community feedback compiled by the Friends will be given both to her and the ABC board, as well as to the government
ABC Friends National, which is dedicated to ensuring our national broadcaster is properly funded, independent of government influence and yet fulfills the responsibilities set out for the ABC in its Charter, has initiated the three month, Australia-wide discussion.
So, to express your views, which we will compile and sort before releasing in a couple of months, please OPEN THIS LINK.
Also, to underpin the debate, ABC Friends National has released its own “Vision Statement” of what it expects from the ABC Board and Management, and from Government.
Further, in front of nearly 300 friends and supporters of the ABC on Sunday, July 2 at Deakin Edge, Federation Square in Melbourne, our National President (Margaret Reynolds) also launched the first step in an online and print ABC Defenders campaign, featuring former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, social justice campaigner Julian Burnside QC, community worker Fr. Bob Maguire and academic Professor Marcia Langton.
Its aim is to defend the ABC, push for restoration of funding cuts and maintain its independence against those actively trying to weaken or destroy the national broadcaster.
We welcome any Friend or Supporter of the ABC to become a Defender.
All, you need to do is to send an email photo of yourself plus your comments to email@example.com, or else write enclosing a photograph plus a sentence or so of what you want to say in support of the ABC, or why you believe it is important to you or the community to GPO BOX 4065, Melbourne, Vic 3001.
The Vision Statement, which follows, expands on the ABC Charter and expresses what the Friends see as the responsibilities of the ABC and its role in democratic Australia:
Since July 1 1932 the ABC has provided independent public broadcasting so essential to our democracy. Yet, as we celebrate 85 years of this national icon, there is a disturbing campaign to undermine its traditional role as rival media and some politicians openly assault the fundamental principles of public broadcasting to protect their own interests and ideology.
Furthermore, the ABC is challenged by repeated government cost cutting and in a rapidly changing media environment: thus making it difficult to maintain its traditional standards of quality programming.
In response ABC Friends is launching its campaign – A Mandate for Public Broadcasting – and asking Australians to rally in defense of the ABC and telling us what they value and expect from the national broadcaster.
‘We, ABC Friends National, advocate the following as a Statement of the Rights, Responsibilities and Values we expect from both the Government and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
- Clear explanations and open procedures and processes when the government appoints future ABC board members and board chairpersons.
- Transparency of ABC board and management decision-making – particularly the sharing on a regular basis of the objectives of policy decisions and of programming.
- Recognition by the government of the day that the ABC’s authority and its role in the Australian media landscape depends on its independence and freedom from political influence. The Senate estimates and other hearings should ensure public scrutiny and accountability.
- Financial security being essential for sound management and for board decision-making, there is a clear need for the ABC budget to be secure and at a level which ensures the ABC can fulfil its Charter requirements that it provide the highest quality of programming with depth, range and diversity for all of Australia. A five-year rolling budget is recommended.
- In interpreting the ABC Charter requirements, the Friends believe:
- That the ABC is required to present an independent, professional and authoritative journalistic voice in its news coverage, current affairs reporting, documentaries, and in its range of specialist programs.
- There is a stated Charter responsibility for the ABC to provide for all Australians quality, innovative and diverse programming on radio, on television and digitally.
- That there is a responsibility for the ABC to report authoritatively on international issues and news, while promoting Australia’s ‘story’ to the Asian and Pacific region.
- That the ABC’s responsibilities include the provision of emergency service broadcasting, regional and rural programming, children’s, music, science, religious and selected other areas of broadcasting as determined by management.
- That, in encouraging and promoting musical, dramatic and other areas of the performing arts, the ABC has mentoring role for developing creative talent around our continent
- We note that the ABC Charter refers specifically to the corporation’s educational responsibility.
- And, lastly, that the ABC’s prime objective is to set the ‘gold standard’ for ethical, quality, specialist and diverse broadcasting nationally in the interests of informing, entertaining and stimulating our robust Australian democratic way of life.
July 1, 2017”
Put simply – the ABC has suffered funding cuts of $100 million a year since 2014 and also been subject to personal, unwarranted and ideologically driven attacks.
Much of that criticism has come from the News Limited organization and a raft of commentators. Further, the Abbott government cancelled funding for the Australia Network one year into a ten year contract, thus restricting the ABC’s ability to report from Asia and the Pacific and for our Australian voice to be heard throughout the region.
So. The objective of ABC Friends is to defend the ABC from its enemies – hence the Defenders Campaign – while, at the same time, seeking feedback from Australians everywhere on what they want from their ABC.
The next three months will be important for the ABC’s future direction and its level of support as we head towards the Friends’ Sydney meeting on October 7/8. There, the results of this public consultation will be analyzed, compiled, published and passed on to the ABC and to the government.
Any donations are welcome at this time as we do need the funding for our National Conference and for lobbying and other activities planned to press for increased funding, freedom from political interference and the ability to fully meet its Charter requirements
So our message is simple.
The ABC is not perfect, but this country desperately needs an ABC able financially, and committed to, fulfilling its Charter requirements for all Australians.
We hope those who recognize the need in a democracy for a plurality of voices to be heard – and who recognize the other areas the ABC contributes to this country culturally, socially, in providing emergency service broadcasting and in servicing the regional and rural parts of this great continent – will recognize the importance of supporting the Friends campaign.
The fight – as the Defenders are united in proclaiming – is one we must win.
(Always remember to check the Friends website <abcfriends.org.au> regularly, or else write to us ABC Friends, GPO BOX 4065, Melbourne, Vic 3001)