Opposition to any suppression of freedom of expression is a central plank of PEN International’s charter. In Australia, the ABC and SBS offer traditional TV and radio as well as digital services to all Australians, and play an essential role in maintaining the freedom of expression that this country enjoys.
PEN Sydney is extremely concerned about threats to public media as a result of current developments specifically affecting the ABC.
- sustained attacks on the national broadcaster and accusations of bias from elements of the commercial media;
- recent revelations of overtly political appointments to the board, and external attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the ABC;
- deficiencies in the selection criteria and processes for board members in the ABC Act, resulting in the appointment of individuals lacking an understanding of their role and a commitment to the concept of independent public broadcasting;
- lack of certainty in funding arrangements. The ABC has suffered continued massive cuts, causing loss of expertise and resources and loss of services to audiences in Australia and the region;
- political support for privatisation of the ABC.
PEN Sydney believes that all these developments represent a grave threat to the independence - indeed the very future - of the ABC, and potentially also to the SBS.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Communications has established an inquiry into the ABC and called for submissions. Submissions have now closed, but PEN urges members to express their support for the ABC by contacting their MP or Senator.
Write an email to your MP or Senator to defend the ABC against privatisation, and to maintain independence, for a free and democratic media in Australia.