ABC Friends has presented its submission on the government’s review of options to support the independence of the ABC and SBS.

You told us that you feel strongly about the ABC’s independence. More than 1500 of our members completed our recent survey and 98% said the government should introduce measures to strengthen the ABC’s independence.

We agree.

Concern about the ABC’s independence is one of the top two issues our members and supporters have raised with us consistently in recent years.

There’s a perception that the ABC’s impartiality has been undermined through party political appointments to the ABC board and a concern that constant funding cuts – and a fear of further cuts – has diluted the ABC’s willingness to take on tough issues.

Our submission seeks to address these issues with practical amendments to the legislation that governs the ABC.

We recommend improved processes for making appointments to the ABC board and reducing conflicts of interest. To guard against partisan appointments, we argue that it should not be possible for the Minister to ignore the recommendations of the Nomination Panel when it presents a shortlist of three candidates to the Minister.

We know from recent experience just how easy it is to revoke funding commitments if they have no legal force. Thus, our submission recommends that the ABC Act be amended to protect the ABC’s base funding in each five year funding term, along with a public review before the end of each funding period to help inform funding decisions for the following 5 years.

Our recommendations will require significant legislative changes. But we’re firmly convinced our proposals will give the ABC greater funding security and more protection against political  interference.

The media in Australia and other countries is experiencing a period of profound and difficult change to which public media organisations are not immune. The pressure to respond to budgetary, political and other external pressures is intense.

Our recommendations represent the minimum steps needed to guarantee the ABC’s future as an independent public broadcaster that delivers high quality, accessible journalism and entertainment.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer our survey and to all those who wrote submissions. We’ll continue to advocate for greater protections to the ABC’s independence and we’ll keep you  posted of developments.

Download our submission

Cassandra Parkinson
President, ABC Friends National