Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The balanced ABC

Phillip Adams does the predictable and hyperventilates today about a renewed attempt to make the ABC more politically balanced:

Focusing on perhaps 5 per cent of its output, critics will conduct frenzied attacks on the organisation and a handful of individuals within it, demanding balance and accountability.

I am curious as to where he gets the 5% figure from.

I've said before that local ABC radio (at least the Brisbane version of it) displays little in the way of political bias. In other States it is different: Sydney has Richard Glover, used to have John Doyle (I think), and Melbourne still has Jon Faine: all broadcasters with clear Labor leaning sympathies. But Radio National, Phillip's own treasured turf, displays balance by this line up of presenters:

Phillip Adams: I understand he made his riches via the most readily criticise-able aspect of modern capitalism (advertising). Now devotes much of his 4 hours of radio each week to left-ish commentators who are critical of capitalism. Also gets to recycle his views in the feverishly unbalanced News Limited media. Like much of Radio National, also has an international audience via Radio Australia and the WWW. (Some voice in the wilderness, hey). Often tells us lately how successful his podcasting is going. Doesn't write books about how stupid belief in God is, just brings it up directly or indirectly in his newspaper columns about once a month. (Hey, it's a guess, but maybe as accurate as his 5% figure.)

Terry Lane: seems to have had an hour a week forever to spout his Phillip Adams-esque views on life. Also a strident atheist who writes books about how silly belief in God is. Also is straining to be heard because of a weekly newspaper column in The Age.

Robyn Williams: 20 year fixture as host of The Science Show. Athiest. Writes books showing why religion is stupid.

Stephen Crittenden: runs the Religion Report, and seems to have spent an inordinate amount of time on the issue of gays in the church. Googling him tonight seems to have confirmed that he is openly gay. (Not that there is anything wrong with that, at least if you are a political conservative.)

Geraldine Doogue: been a floating fixture around the ABC on TV and radio forever and a day. A Catholic, but, I suspect, one with very liberal leanings. Can't find much to confirm that yet, but I am sure the evidence is out there!

Paul Collins: frequent commentator on religion. Ex Catholic priest who now worries a lot about ecology.

Fran Kelly: adequate enough host of morning show, but not as good at keeping bias in check as previous host Peter Thompson.

Radio National identities in whom I have not really identified anything clearly indicating a left wing bias: Norman Swan and Alan Saunders.

Radio National presenters with clear conservative-ish reputation: Michael Duffy. (Maybe he is just more of a general contrarian.) Has one hour a week. The show has been on for about a year.

Get the picture here?

A Lefty can still be a good broadcaster; and clearly it doesn't stop me listening to their shows. But there is nothing evenly vaguely resembling a fair range of political and social opinion in the staff of taxpayer funded Radio National, and further moves to balance this up can only be good.

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