ABC supremo Mark Scott’s planned new anti-bias procedures have attracted howls of criticism that they’re a stitch-up. But could they expose programs that aren’t in the Enemies of the ABC’s gunsights?

Remember, a key feature of the new standards will be that there must be balance across individual series, rather than whole platforms (ie Radio National).

In which case, what will be the fate of Michael Duffy’s Counterpoint, the right-wing romper-room established in the endless search for the “right-wing Philip Adams”?
A glance at the Counterpoint rundowns for the past month breaks down thus.

Of seventeen guests, thirteen were from the right – Mike Nahan (IPA), Jennifer Marohasy (IPA), Des Moore, John Kasarda, Dennis Shanahan, Bettina Arndt, Tom Quirk, Alan Oxley, Randal O’Toole, Alan Moran (IPA), Edmund S Phelps, Michael Warby, Daniel Klein, Andrew Norton, and Duffy himself. (See end or the Counterpoint website for full notes).

Two – Munira Mirza and Daniel Ben-Ami are from the UK ‘Spiked’ group, a site which does not fit easily into left-right definitions (and to which I am an occasional contributor) but whose core contributors are strongly anti-(mainstream) left and anti-green.

One, Judith Brett, is from the centre-left but on the topic in question – John Howard – has spent much of her time criticising the left. And only one is unquestionably from the left/green sort of side – Steve Campbell, from Greenpeace.

The topics – global warming as panic, economic freedom, let’s have a nuclear waste storage industry, etc — give an idea of the skew.

No other show displays such obvious lack of balance and different voices – which is surely the source of its distinctive identity, contributing to a platform-based pluralism.

But I imagine the CP crew will be spending a lot of their time responding to official bias complaints in the future – and may have no choice but to find a place for Bob Brown and others in their future schedules. Shame to wreck a good show, but balance is balance.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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