ABC makes minor changes to classification timezones

ABC makes minor changes to classification timezones

ABC is making minor changes to its multichannel classifications.

ABC TV Plus programming will move from a 7:30pm start to 7pm after ABC Kids. PG programming will remain until 7:30pm when M rated content commences.

ABC ME moves M rated content from 8:30pm to 7:30pm but it will hold off MA content until 9pm (rather than 8:30pm which is what the primary ABC channel offers).

The changes are part of an updated 2024 ABC Code of Practice, following recommendations of an independent review conducted by former Commonwealth and NSW Ombudsman Professor John McMillan and former SBS Director News and Current Affairs Jim Carroll.

In addition to the new Code of Practice, the ABC has updated its impartiality standards.

Most notably, the standard requiring the presentation of a diversity of perspectives has been strengthened to ensure opposing viewpoints are presented within a reasonable timeframe and reach a similar audience.

It will take effect on 1 January 2024.

Principles

The ABC has a statutory duty to ensure that the gathering and presentation of news and information is impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism.

Aiming to equip audiences to make up their own minds is consistent with the public service character of the ABC. A democratic society depends on diverse sources of reliable information and contending opinions. A broadcaster operating under statute with public funds is legitimately expected to contribute in ways that may differ from commercial media, which are free to be partial to private interests.

The ABC takes no editorial stance other than its commitment to fundamental democratic principles including the rule of law, freedom of speech and religion, parliamentary democracy and non-discrimination.

Judgements about whether impartiality was achieved in any given circumstances can vary among individuals according to their personal and subjective view of any given matter of contention. Acknowledging this fact of life does not change the ABC’s obligation to apply its impartiality standard as objectively as possible. In doing so, the ABC is guided by these hallmarks of impartiality:

    • a balance that follows the weight of evidence;
    • fair treatment;
    • open-mindedness; and
    • opportunities over time for principal relevant perspectives on matters of contention to be expressed.

The ABC aims to present, over time, content that addresses a broad range of subjects from a diversity of perspectives reflecting a diversity of experiences, presented in a diversity of ways from a diversity of sources, including content created by ABC staff, generated by audiences and commissioned or acquired from external content-makers.

Impartiality does not require that every perspective receives equal time, nor that every facet of every argument is presented.

Assessing the impartiality due in given circumstances requires consideration in context of all relevant factors including:

    • the type, subject and nature of the content;
    • the circumstances in which the content is made and presented;
    • the likely audience expectations of the content;
    • the degree to which the matter to which the content relates is contentious;
    • the range of principal relevant perspectives on the matter of contention; and
    • the timeframe within which it would be appropriate for the ABC to provide opportunities for the principal relevant perspectives to be expressed, having regard to the public importance of the matter of contention and the extent to which it is the subject of current debate.

Standards

4.1  Gather and present news and information with due impartiality.

4.2 Present a diversity of perspectives within a reasonable timeframe, aiming to reach a similar audience, so that no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.

4.3 Take care in the presentation of analysis and commentary. Do not present them as the editorial opinion of the ABC.

4.4  Do not misrepresent any perspective.

4.5  Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.