ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie has taken aim at a deal struck between the Turnbull government and One Nation to pass media reform changes.
In a speech to the Friends of the ABC this Friday night, Guthrie said: “Legislation designed to further a political vendetta by one party uncomfortable with being scrutinised by our investigative programs is not good policy-making.”
Guthrie was referring to media reform legislation that’s due to come before the parliament in the next few weeks. It will insert a requirement into the ABC charter that the broadcaster be “fair and balanced”, and force the ABC to publish the salaries of staff earning more than $200,000.
The legislation is part of a deal with One Nation, which has been hugely critical of the ABC following an episode of Four Corners devoted to the party’s internal machinations.
Guthrie said: “The proposed changes do not further the public interest. They do not ‘improve’ the ABC as some have suggested. They interfere with the right and ability of the ABC Board to do its work and override the Privacy Act to force salary disclosures on our employees that no other public agency is required to do.”
She also fired back at CEOs and senior management of commercial media organisations, such as News Corp, Fairfax, Nine, Seven and Ten, who have recently criticised the ABC’s move into the digital space and other areas which commercial organisations would like to dominate.
“I would say the same for the commercial free-to-airs and to Foxtel, whose CEOs seem to spend more time whingeing about the ABC than addressing their own audience challenges. My advice to them is that attacking the national broadcaster does not – and will never – constitute a viable business model. Restricting the ABC’s right to use digital platforms, which appears to be the clear intent behind pressuring the Government for a competitive neutrality inquiry, will not protect them from digital disruption. All it does is hurt the community.”
Read Guthrie’s full speech here.