Internal ABC report reveals the National broadcaster spent most of the time speaking to Yes campaigners ahead of Voice referendum – before majority of the country voted No
An internal ABC review has found that coverage of the Voice referendum was dominated by Yes supporters.
The national broadcaster's 2023 Voice to Parliament Referendum report found that 51 per cent of votes appearing on the ABC during referendum coverage were in favor of a yes vote.
In contrast, only 23 percent of ABC-backed speakers were in favor of a no vote, with the rest neutral or undecided. The Australian reported.
More than 60 percent of Australians supported the No campaign in the October 14 referendum, while only 40 percent voted Yes.
The report, compiled by editorial policy manager Mark Maley and published on Monday, found the ABC received 383 complaints about its coverage of the referendum – more than 80 per cent of which related to claims of bias or lack of balance.
The national broadcaster's 2023 Voice to Parliament Referendum report shows that 51 percent of those appearing on the ABC during its referendum coverage were in favor of a Yes vote (photo: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during a Yes vote campaign event)
Only 121 complaints were investigated and only four were upheld.
It is unclear what exactly those complaints were.
The report also said that balance was not necessary.
“Teams were specifically told that a 50/50 balance between advocates was not required,” Mr Maley said.
'The aim was to ensure that the public on all platforms was presented with the main arguments for and against the positions in the referendum within a reasonable time.
The report praised Radio National's breakfast show, led by Q+A presenter Patricia Karvelas, for its 'influential role in media reporting'.
The report praised Radio National's breakfast show, led by Q+A presenter Patricia Karvelas (pictured), for its 'influential role in media reporting'.
“Notable interviews included: Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton, Tony Abbott and Anthony Albanese,” Mr Maley said in the report.
The review also said that RN's reporting, including on the programs Late Night Live and Between the Lines, “sought a diversity of perspectives.”
The latter is presented by academic and respected news editor Tom Switzer, often described as one of the ABC's few conservative voices.
He recently announced he is leaving ABC, with an insider suggesting Switzer had “ruffled feathers” with his choice of guests.
The report also addressed the ABC's problems with its coverage of the Garma Festival in north-east Arnhem Land in August, celebrating indigenous culture.
The report also addressed the ABC's problems with its coverage of the Garma Festival in north-east Arnhem Land in August, celebrating indigenous culture. A special QA episode, filmed at the festival and presented by David Speers (pictured), led to the ABC issuing an embarrassing statement after a guest falsely accused the N campaign of using 'AI-generated aborigines' in their adverts
“Indigenous and planning teams knew it would include mostly Yes perspectives, so they did their best to include other voices,” the report said.
Prominent No campaigner Warren Mundine pulled out of a special Q+A episode filmed in Garma moderated by Insiders presenter David Speers.
At the time, the ABC was forced to issue an embarrassing statement after the Garma show made false claims that the official 'No' campaign used 'AI-generated aborigines' in their ads.