Protestors outside ABC as David Anderson defends impartiality

Protestors outside ABC as David Anderson defends impartiality

Protestors gathered outside ABC’s Ultimo headquarters yesterday afternoon to protest coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.

There were various chants of ‘Shame Shame ABC / SMH / The Guardian’ and later, ‘Albanese’ when the group moved to Central Station. The protest followed an episode of Q+A earlier this week.

Managing Director David Anderson was in Melbourne to address Friends of the ABC Victoria in which he defended ABC impartiality.

“A commitment to impartiality is a tough discipline.  It means that the ABC can be in the position of putting views to the public that some, or many, may not want to hear. I’ve noticed this in our coverage of both the Israel-Hamas war and the Voice to Parliament referendum.

“The ABC does not ban people based on their political beliefs, and our guidelines require that the ABC is not seen to be condoning or encouraging prejudice or discrimination.

“Our guidelines also require that programs give viewers and listeners adequate context and background on interviewees.

“Impartiality does not require that every perspective receives equal time, nor that every facet of every argument is presented. We do not simply give interviewees an open platform and carte blanche to say whatever they want. Interviewers will challenge and question statements when appropriate.

“Often when people say our editorial policies are in decline, they usually mean we aren’t taking a side. In fact this means our editorial polices are working exactly as they should.

“A core role of our journalism is to prevent people from sinking into partisan bubbles with their own set of untested facts.

“Unpopular or even distasteful ideas and views will not go away just because they are ignored. On the contrary, they can grow in the dark.  But at the ABC we will ensure they are exposed in the light,” he said.

“At the last Senate Estimates, I was questioned about Sarah Ferguson’s interview with the Hamas Head of International Relations, Basem Naim. The interview on 7.30 was broadcast ten days after the October 7 attacks.

“Clearly, the fact Hamas had attacked Israel killing innocent civilians means their motives and position should be questioned and tested if they are to be understood.

“By interviewing one of its leaders, we were able to test some of the propaganda (and outright lies) that Hamas spread following the attack.

“For example, Hamas was claiming it was Israeli propaganda that civilians had been targeted. Claiming that Hamas fighters did not attack civilians, did not kill children or elderly people. That 7.30 interview saw Basem Naim concede that Hamas did kill civilians, and he stopped making that false claim.

“It is possible for the ABC to accurately describe the savage attacks in Israel while also providing coverage of the shocking conditions being experienced by civilians in Gaza, as well as appropriate historical context.”