Jun 27, 2018

ABC board missing in action at a moment of crisis for the national broadcaster

A managerialist and low-profile ABC board isn't helping the national broadcaster defend itself from a government determined to keep attacking it.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Some days after Crikey first pointed out that, unlike his predecessor Donald McDonald, ABC chairman Justin Milne was signally absent from the debate around the ABC, he made a rather tepid foray into the controversy with an op-ed about how trusted the ABC was and how the commercial media had an agenda to undermine it. And last week, managing director Michelle Guthrie gave a speech also defending the national broadcaster. Guthrie emphasised the ABC's efficiency and economic benefits.

Neither substantially addressed the real enemy in the current fight, the Turnbull government, which is persistently and successfully working to intimidate ABC journalists, editors, producers and management. Guthrie mentioned the Liberal Party's now-official policy of privatisation, and the government's competitive neutrality inquiry, but otherwise referred only generically to politicians and the ABC being used "as a punching bag by narrow political, commercial or ideological interests." Milne didn't mention the government at all, merely "fringe political interests, populists and commercial media." And he certainly didn't mention his friend Malcolm Turnbull.

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