Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 401. Updated Tuesday, 18 March 2014

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Reviews find little bias in ABC news

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has issued the findings from two reviews into its editorial performance, claiming they show the broadcaster to be relatively free of bias and error.

ABC Chairman, James Spigelman said the first review, by Andrea Wills, found no breaches of editorial policy but made a range of suggestions about ways to improve the ABC's content.

Mr Spigelman said the second review, by Gerald Stone, identified four items out of almost 100 separate pieces of content that raised concerns.

He said Mr Stone had asked for further investigation of these programs, which were conducted and the results reflected in his conclusions.

95 per cent of no concern

Mr Spigelman said more than 95 per cent of the content examined attracted no criticism or concerns.

"However the criticisms that were made are welcome, and have received proper consideration by content divisions and the relevant journalists and program teams," he said.

"The criticisms have been accepted and acted upon. No further steps with respect to the individual journalists are required."

Mr Spigelman said in response to the analysis in these reviews the ABC's guidelines on impartiality would be expanded and updated, and this would be supported by ongoing training and editorial discussion.

"Specifically, the review of guidelines will address the risks arising if questions are not asked, allegations and claims are not closely scrutinised or the evidence that they have been is not broadcast," he said.

Mr Spigelman said these reviews had demonstrated that against the background of thousands of stories produced over the period reviewed, the error rate was small.

He said the ABC was planning the next review, which would examine the range of subject matters covered by some of its daily radio programs to assess how well they reflected the issues and subjects that mattered most to the audiences.

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