|Issue No 108||24 August 2001|
ABC IR Memo Draws More Fire
An ABC management memo dictating the way the journalists should report industrial disputes is an outrageous attempt to censor news, say Victorian union leaders.
The leaked memo written by Mark Henderson, Network Editor should be withdrawn immediately says the Finance Sector Union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance and the Victorian Trades Hall Council.
The FSU is concerned the ABC may have been approached by the banks who are concerned about their image during the ongoing dispute over enterprise bargaining negotiations.
The memo tells journalists that "the main angle on our coverage should be the impact on the public". It is not clear whether the memo was distributed in NSW alone, or across all states and territories.
"The details of the dispute, for example, rates of pay, are very much secondary and our coverage should reflect that."
The memo makes particular reference to industrial action in the banking industry saying: "a dispute in the banking industry should focus on whether banks will be closed." The memo concludes by suggesting that, "if an industrial dispute does not impact on the public we should be immediately considering why we should be covering it."
FSU National Secretary Tony Beck has written to Jonathan Shier, ABC Managing Director seeking an assurance that the memo be withdrawn and that the "banking industry has not influenced the ABC's news reportage criteria."
Mr Beck said the ABC directive appeared to act in favour of powerful sectional interests. "The details of our disputes, pay, service standards, branch closures, community access to retail banking etc are of intense interest to the community and therefore the ABC has an obligation to report them. To treat these issues as secondary, denies the public access to critical information."
Victorian Trades Hall Council Secretary Leigh Hubbard said the memo was an outrageous attempt to limit the way complex disputes are reported by the ABC. "We have had a large number of industrial disputes on recently, particularly in Victoria and I would like to ask ABC management why they see fit to dictate the 'angle' rather than giving the facts and letting readers and viewers make up their own minds."
MEAA, the union representing ABC journalists said the memo was taking a "populist" approach to reporting of industrial issues. Pat O'Donnell, MEAA, Victorian Branch Secretary said: "We expect journalists to act independently
and use their news judgement. This memo interferes with news judgement. We've had a number of disputes recently and I can't think of any where it would not be in the public interest to report the details."
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History: Race and Australian Labour.
Australian unionists have long been questioning notions of a “White Australia”, even before the colonies united with it as the central feature.
Economics: Global Regulation
Public sector unions from around the globe are taking the first steps to work internationally against the deregulation agenda.
Satire: Niche Identified in Left-Wing Publications Market
A marxist-feminist activist has discovered a gaping hole in the lucrative left-wing publications market.
Review: The Fight for Equal Pay
In this extract from her new book, Zelda D'Aprano looks at the contribution Kath Williams made to the struggle for equality.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005