An internal investigation that has shown the Australian Broadcasting Corporation favoured the Morrison government by 6 per cent during the federal election campaign has shocked and dismayed ABC chair Ita Buttrose.
Ms Buttrose (pictured above in her ABC office) told The Bug in an exclusive interview overnight: “I’m still shaking my head over the figures (government air time of 53 per cent compared with Labor’s 46 per cent across all ABC platforms). I feel let down and betrayed, I can tell you.”
The figures made a mockery of the broadcaster’s hard-fought-for and cherished reputation for fairness and balance in all aspects of news reporting, but especially at election times, she said.
“How a single party such as the Labor Party has enjoyed almost as much exposure as three other political parties combined – the National Party of Australia, the Liberal Party of Australia and the Liberal National Party in Queensland is … well, it’s beyond me. It really is.
“I rang Prime Minister Scott Morrison and offered the resignations of some of my board members but he declined, simply saying I knew what I had to do. How good is that, eh?”
Ms Buttrose said she told the PM she would do everything in her power to ensure the Labor Party in future election periods had its proportionate 25 per cent coverage compared with the other three parties.
“We can all take comfort from the fact that the 6 per cent finding was from an internal audit and my best guess is that an independent external probe would have found Labor’s share to be a lot less than that and much closer to where it belongs.
“I think any fair-minded person watching the ABC during the campaign would know the government had a much-greater share than our audit showed.”
Ms Buttrose said the findings also showed the need for more diversity in opinions expressed on all ABC news and current affairs programs and not just ones with a distinct political theme.
“From now on, for every Institute of Public Affairs talking head who appears on shows like News Breakfast, The Drum, RN Breakfast and 7.30 someone from the Public Affairs Institute and the Affairs of the Public Institute must also get their fair exposure.”
And she has vowed to fight hard to keep her job as promised Morrison government cuts come into force in the months ahead.
“I distinctly remember what I said when Mr Morrison rang some months ago and offered me this job.
“‘Thanks for ringing back,'” I said.