The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that the ABC breached its own Code of Practice by failing to make every reasonable effort to ensure that a Four Corners program about the forestry industry in Tasmania was impartial. ACMA has also found the ABC failed to make every reasonable effort to ensure that the factual content of the program was accurate.

ACMA has ruled the program was emotive, but rejected claims it breached the code in relation to balance. It’s yet another blow for the program Lords of the Forests by Ticky Fullerton, broadcast in February 2004.

The day after the broadcast, ABC Local Radio Tasmania’s morning host Tim Cox told his listeners there had never been a bigger response to a Four Corners story – and that the majority of callers believed the program was biased in favour of the green movement. Crikey covered the controversy in considerable detail at the time.

The ACMA report recommends that the ABC “review its procedures for preparing television current affairs programs so that every reasonable effort is made to ensure the impartiality of those programs”.

The program has already been the subject of negative findings by both the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the ABC’s own Independent Complaints Review Panel.

Lords of the Forests was just one of three controversial Four Corners reports by Fullerton on environmental subjects.

Sold Down the River, a look at “at the winners and losers from a radical experiment in trading precious water rights” and The Waste Club, an examination of “how one of the country’s most powerful lobbies has ruthlessly repelled moves to solve Australia’s growing waste crisis”, generated heated debate when they were broadcast in 2003.

Declaration: Christian Kerr undertakes paid commentary for the ABC