Australia: Journalist's body call for open and transparent board appointments at public broadcaster

A statement looking at problems with the process of appointing to the governing body of a state-owned broadcaster in Australia – useful contrast to the Malaysian state of affairs!



The Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance is calling on the Government to reform its closed-door approach to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) board appointments in favour of an open and transparent process, following the appointment of Janet Albrechtsen.

On Thursday 24 February, Communications Minister Helen Coonan announced that Ms Albrechtsen, who writes for News Ltd's The Australian, was appointed to the ABC board. The announcement of the Government's decision, like Albrechtsen's conservative weekly column, sparked immediate controversy.

The Alliance joins the Labor opposition and ABC staff in opposing the direct appointment, saying it generates a blatant and unhealthy conflict of interest.

"Ms Albrechtsen works for News Ltd, a direct competitor to the ABC. Her appointment is highly inappropriate and jeopardises the independence of our national public broadcaster," said federal secretary of the Alliance, Christopher Warren.

"The fact that Ms Albrechtsen, a journalist and advocate for bias-free media, fails to see the conflict of interest or Government agenda in her appointment is cause for grave concern," said Warren.

The Alliance calls on the Government to immediately reform the ABC board appointment process. So long as the system fails to be open and transparent, the government of the day will continue to appoint political sympathisers to the highest level of the public broadcaster, ignoring their obligation to the Australian community.

"The ABC is a public broadcaster owned by the Australian people and it's time to put it back into our hands.

"Stacking the board with people happy to comply with the Government's politics does not serve the public interest and is not conducive to a free and open media," said Warren.

The Media Alliance represents more than 10,000 journalists across Australia.

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