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A third of Aussies say ABC ‘out of touch’

EXCLUSIVE

LESS than one third of the country believes the ABC "represents the views of ordinary Australians", a survey by the Institute of Public Affairs suggests.

The Liberal-aligned think tank says the result shows "public broadcasting has passed its use-by date". The IPA is renewing calls for the $1.1 billion-a-year national broadcaster to be privatised.

In the poll of 1016 people conducted by marketing research firm Dynata in early December - largely before the bushfire crisis - respondents were asked to agree or disagree with the statement: "The ABC does not represent the views of ordinary Australians."

Overall, more people sided with the ABC than not, with 32 per cent either somewhat or strongly disagreeing with the statement, compared with 30 per cent who either somewhat or strongly agreed.

Thirty-eight per cent were neither here nor there.

"Over two thirds of Australians either don't believe the ABC reflects their views or they are on the fence," Liberal Senator James McGrath told news.com.au.

"The ABC is becoming the pianola of media - it does a job but is increasingly irrelevant. In a pluralistic media market, Aussies are tuning out. The ABC is running a 1980s media model for a 21st century media market."

An ABC spokesman said, "No comment."

Labor has been contacted for comment.

When broken down by age group, the results tell an interesting story - and suggest the "zoomer" generation may be getting more conservative.

Predictably, people aged over 65 - the first half of the Baby Boomer generation - had the most negative view on the ABC, with 47 per cent agreeing the broadcaster is out of touch.

But surprisingly, they were closely followed in that view by their grandkids.

Thirty-three per cent of those aged 18 to 24 were in the anti-ABC camp, the second largest cohort. Only 21 per cent of Gen Z took the other side, the smallest proportion of any age group.

The strongest age group in favour of the ABC were those aged 55 to 64 - the second Baby Boomer wave - followed by Gen Xers aged 45 to 54.

In general, people aged under 44 were the most "meh".

Just under half of those aged 35 to 44 were on the fence. That was closely followed down the age brackets, with 48 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 and 46 per cent those aged 18 to 24.

Only 19 per cent of over-65s said they neither agreed nor disagreed.

"These polling results suggest that young people are optimistic, ambitious and patriotic," said IPA policy director Gideon Rozner.

"They are not interested in programming awash with negativity, black armband history and climate hysteria. These results prove there is no future in public ownership of the ABC."

 

 

More people than not supported the ABC. Source: IPA
More people than not supported the ABC. Source: IPA

 

Over-65s had the strongest anti-ABC response. Source: IPA
Over-65s had the strongest anti-ABC response. Source: IPA

 

It comes after ABC chair Ita Buttrose sat down with Scott Morrison earlier this month, reportedly to ask the PM for more cash using goodwill the broadcaster earned from its highly praised bushfire coverage.

The government froze the ABC's base funding last year at $1 billion. The Australian reported Ms Buttrose intended to ask the PM for "adequate" funds, as the ABC had been forced to dig into its reserves to fulfil its role as the country's emergency broadcaster.

"The Morrison Government must rule out giving more taxpayer dollars to a state-owned broadcaster that already receives $1.1 billion a year," Mr Rozner said.

"If the ABC is unable to fulfil its existing duties as the emergency broadcaster within its existing $1.1 billion budget then the Morrison Government should reduce its funding even more and run a competitive tender between the commercial broadcasters for the emergency broadcaster function."

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently confirmed he was "looking at" scrapping the TV licence fee and turning the BBC into a subscription service.

The IPA is calling for something similar in Australia.

"If only one third of Australians think the ABC speaks for them, maybe public broadcasting has passed its use-by date," Mr Rozner said.

"The ABC seems to be playing to its loyal base in an era of audience fragmentation. It's understandable, but let's not maintain the fiction of a 'national broadcaster'. Even if that were possible once, it's not anymore."

Mr Rozner said the ABC was "not the only media outlet that has some sort of bias, far from it, but it is the only media outlet that every taxpayer is forced to pay for". "Rethinking state ownership is not an 'attack' on the ABC, any more than privatisation was an attack on Qantas or Telstra," he said.

Speaking to Sky News earlier this month, Senator McGrath accused Ms Buttrose of "having a laugh" in her request for more funding, saying while the ABC "does a good job in parts of Australia" it was becoming "a left-wing blob of boring, woke views" and needed to "get in tune with the quiet Australians".

"I've got a three-point plan - sell off their inner-city headquarters, make sure we have a review of the ABC Charter and Act, and stop this self-selection process where like-minded ABC people keep recruiting like-minded ABC people," he said.

frank.chung@news.com.au


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