ABC panned for ‘bias’ against King Charles
The ABC ombudsman will investigate the national broadcaster’s Coronation coverage following thousands of viewer complaints and allegations of breached editorial standards.
More than 1000 complaints were made against the organisation, triggering an investigation by the ombudsman’s office that is compelled to act on formal complaints of editorial failings.
The broadcast of King Charles’ Coronation was managed by the ABC’s news division and focused largely on issues relating to the republican movement as well as widespread harm perpetrated against Indigenous Australians by the monarchy and its colonial enterprise.
Claims were reportedly made against the broadcaster that it breached ABC standards relating to impartiality, accuracy, and harm and offence by failing to present alternative views on topics concerning Indigenous matters.
ABC journalists Julia Baird and Jeremy Fernandez hosted the broadcaster’s Saturday evening coverage, where nine guests discussed the contemporary relevance of the British monarchy to Australian lives.
The program featured Australian Republic Movement co-chair Craig Foster and ABC journalist and Wiradjuri man Stan Grant as well as writer and monarchist Kathy Lette.
On May 5, the day before the Coronation, the Australian Monarchist League (AML) publicly accused the ABC of failing to ensure a “fair, balanced and respectful commentary” of the day’s proceedings.
“The inclusion of multiple senior republicans … on a broadcast which should be focused on the history and tradition surrounding a Coronation ceremony clearly demonstrates bias in the ABC broadcast,” AML national chairman Philip Benwell said.
“The Coronation procession and ceremony are not political footballs or invitations for an anti-Crown activist to opine about the various merits of different political systems.
“It is a sacred moment of consecration to time-honoured oaths between a king, his god and the people whom he will serve.”
Another pro-monarchy advocacy group, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, reportedly filed a formal complaint with the ABC for offending Australian viewers through what it described as the “imposing” and “hostile” nature of the program.
ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson will be involved in a separate, informal review into the coverage, according to The Australian.
It’s been speculated that Anderson will face similar questions on the coverage when facing a senate estimates hearing later this month.
While the ABC’s ombudsman will make recommendations to the board following its investigations, decisions regarding editorial direction ultimately lie with Anderson.