Yesterday, the ABC held its upfronts, a teaser of the year of programming to come. And predictably, the news and current affairs programs were like a sea of mayonnaise — with no shade to the Crabbs, Rowlands, Micallefs and Sales’ of this world who continue to dominate.
It started with a tweet about the “great diverse talent on the ABC”. That included shows like Chopsticks or Fork and Superwog. Not really hard-hitting news and current affairs. It was followed by four more in the next hour or so, showcasing the ABC’s diverse talent, and, rather hilariously, providing a link to a brief, frantically-written statement telling us how Aunty would Do Better.
And look, props to the ABC for at least taking the feedback on board. Of course, we could be picky and point out many of those non-white faces are on relatively new shows, or read the news on the channels nobody watches. When you look at the broadcaster’s most influential news programs and biggest stars, the whiteness really stands out. It only started putting non-white people on Insiders this year after a post-Black Lives Matter outcry.
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And this all comes just a few months after Media Diversity Australia released a report which found just 6% of presenters, commentators and reporters on Australian television news have an Indigenous or non-European background (despite making up around a quarter of the population).
The ABC is supposed to do better — the charter says it must broadcast programs that reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community.
And in their statement, they promised to do so. But real change requires sustained work, not firing off a few apologetic tweets every time you get called out.