on the ABC made no secret of his political allegiance. "The 7:30 Report" was not a neutral presentation of current affairs but a front for the Australian Labor Party. (Yes, it is spelt without the "u".) The presenter got away with it because, within the Australian Broadcasting Commission, there was - and still is - wide support for the ALP.
The ABC however, like the BBC, is taxpayer funded. It is supposed to be neutral. It is supposed to provide, as far as possible, non-biased and non-judgmental information and some entertainment. It does not. It is one of the reasons we watch very little television - even Global Village has let us down lately because there are third time repeats being shown. My father and I did consider watching the new series on the history of Wales but, come the time on Friday night, we were both busy doing other things.
I do try to watch the news on what we call "SBS" the Special Broadcasting Service. This is a probably unique channel which is supposed to provide a service to "multi-cultural" Australia. The news service concentrates on international and national affairs rather than state affairs. I usually manage to last to the point where they, inevitably, start talking about sport. Then I switch off the television set and do something else.
I was talking to a neighbour about this yesterday. He does watch television. His idea of a good evening at home is "a glass of good red and a bit of telly". He had come over to see if we still had a newspaper from a week back as he needed a death notice from it. We found it before the whole lot goes to recycling tomorrow. He stood there reading an article on another page though and then said to me,
"That's wrong you know."
I looked. He works in that particular area of that particular government department so he should know. It so happens I did know it was wrong . He had told me about the project earlier. It was a small thing and the article was only a paragraph long but it was quite inaccurate.
I pointed out that a great deal of information is actually mis-information. Sometimes it is just sloppy reporting but sometimes it is quite deliberate. He shook his head.
"Reporters are not supposed to be biased."
I mentioned the television presenter. He shrugged. "We all knew that - and I quite liked the guy. Anyway, it didn't really matter. Everyone knew what he was like."
It did matter and not everyone knew what he was like. They still assume the ABC is neutral. The Finkelstein Inquiry into the media was supposed to be neutral too. It has not been. I wonder if the Leveson Inquiry in the UK will end up the same way.
Now the problem is - where am I going to get my information from?