Should the ABC be protected from the whims of politicians?

THE ABC Charter should be added to the Australian Constitution, according to a new report into how the ABC is governed, to keep the national broadcaster from being used as a political football.

The No Politics at Aunty's Table was published today by The Australian Institute, a left-leaning think-tank, and authored by former ABC boss Fergus Pitt.

The Institute's executive director Ben Oquist said the ABC was too easily "kicked around by governments of both stripes".

"Debate around whether the ABC fulfils its charter, if the board is competent or if we are getting value for money are healthy things," he said.

"What is not healthy is attempts to move the goalposts on how the ABC is governed for party political or commercial advantage."

Mr Pitt said if any government was successful in significantly changing the ABC, it would encourage future governments to do the same, "which could lead to a toxic culture pendulum swinging from election to election".

The ABC is currently fighting to keep its current levels of funding, with managing director Mark Scott putting his case at Senate estimates hearings in February.

The Federal Government is considering allowing $34 million in funding to expire.

The ABC came under prolonged and intense government attacks in 2015 after a former terror suspect entered a heated debate with a Coalition minister.

At the time Prime Minister Tony Abbott said "heads should roll" at the broadcaster, banned his frontbench from appearing on its panel show Q&A and later publicly asked the ABC, "Whose side are you on?"

Mr Scott at the time shot back at Mr Abbott saying he hoped that "noone seriously wants to be a state broadcaster" akin to those in China, North Korea, Russia and Vietnam.

Read the full report here.



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