The ABC Board has launched an independent review of the editorial self-regulatory system of national broadcasters and the handling of complaints.
- Former Commonwealth Ombudsman John Macmillan and ten former SBS executives and Jim Carroll will head the review
- It will test how well ABC manages external feedback and conforms to its own editorial standards.
- The Review Board will be notified to report back to the ABC Board in March 2022
The review will be led by former Commonwealth and New South Wales Ombudsman John Macmillan and former SBS News and Current Affairs Director Jim Carroll, who has been head of news and public affairs at Ten Network.
In the review, ABC will examine how well it handles external complaints and feedback on compliance with its own editorial standards.
It will also consider standards-compliant training, remediation and action, resource provisioning, and other audience response manipulation.
An independent review by Maurice Newman and Paul Chadwick, which took over in 2008 and published in 2009, found that ABC’s framework was “fundamentally good” and “well developed and transparent” compared to other media organizations in Australia.
The review made a number of recommendations to streamline and improve ABC’s grievance handling process.
In 2018, the Australian National Audit Office also examined ABC’s complaint management.
It found that the National Public Broadcaster “manages complaints effectively” and that the process is accessible to its viewers and easy to navigate and responsive.
The Australian National Audit Office said ABC had “limited visibility on the progress and outcome of less significant but larger volume of complaints directly managed by content areas”.
ABC Chairperson Ita Butterros said the forthcoming review was a timely step to ensure that ABC’s grievance redressal procedures meet viewers’ expectations.
“That role requires more detailed accountability processes. I am pleased that both Professor Macmillan and Mr. Carroll have agreed to bring their considerable skills and experience to this review.”
ABC Managing Director David Anderson said the work of the small group of independent investigators and consumer affairs unit investigators was “essential to maintaining transparency and accountability.”
“ABC’s commitment to high editorial standards and rigorous complaint processes is why it remains one of the nation’s most trusted public institutions,” Mr. Anderson said.
Following discussions between ABC, Professor Macmillan and Carroll, the following terms have been adapted and updated from the 2008 review:
- 1ABC Editorial Policy and the ABC Training Code Adequacy to meet the requirements of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 (Cth).
- 2Appropriateness of the ABC Complaints Process for receiving and managing complaints related to ABC Editorial Standards.
- 3Actions taken by ABC to make the public aware of the ABC complaint process.
- 4Whether complaints regarding ABC editorial standards are resolved efficiently, fairly and fairly.
- 5Whether appropriate action will be taken to remedy violations of ABC editorial standards.
- 6Actions taken by ABC to ensure that the organization and its staff are fully aware of complaints and grievance results.
- 7Complaints Process Steps taken by ABC to ensure that the Complaints Process is committed to continuing to improve ABC editorial standards and to set standards, training and day-to-day content.
- 8Steps taken by ABC to provide information and training to staff and independent service and content providers on ABC editorial standards.
- 9Whether the capabilities and resources of the groups responsible for the complaint process are appropriate for the purpose.
- 10Measures taken by ABC to ensure public transparency on complaints and grievance results.
- 11.Steps taken by ABC to accept and manage standards-oriented audience responses (excluding complaints).
The review board is expected to report back to the ABC board in March 2022.