The ABC will be investigated by its own ombudsman after the broadcaster was deluged with complaints over its ‘extremely biased’ coronation coverage.
The taxpayer-funded broadcaster reportedly received over 1,000 complaints for its ‘disrespectful’ coverage, which focussed heavily on the impact the monarchy and colonisation have had on Aboriginal Australians and people of colour.
The two-hour special, hosted by The Drum’s Julia Baird and news presenter Jeremy Fernandez, featured a discussion panel featuring Q&A host Stan Grant, co-chair of the Australian Republic Movement Craig Foster, Liberal MP and monarchist Julian Leeser, and Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman Teela Reid.
Mr. Foster called for accountability from the Royal family, at one point claiming: ‘At the heart of the wound in this nation is the Crown. And yet the Crown have been above reproach.’
The program was aired at 5pm, just three hours before the Coronation of King Charles III was broadcast in Australia.
While most of the objections were from viewers who simply wanted to express their ‘dissatisfaction’ with the coverage, some were specifically accused the ABC of breaching its editorial guidelines, reported The Australian.
A spokesman for the ABC refused to comment on the 1,000 figure and advised Daily Mail Australia to treat the report as ‘speculative’.
All formal complaints of editorial failings are investigated by the ABC ombudsman’s office which will report its findings to the board, chaired by Ita Buttrose.
Liberal MP Julian Leeser, who was on the panel and the only monarchist present on the programme, claimed the ABC ‘got the balance wrong’.
‘To have only one of four panellists as supporters of our existing constitutional arrangements meant there was little opportunity for a panel discussion that reflected the warmth and respect Australians have for King Charles,’ he said.
Last week, a monarchist group threatened legal action over the national broadcaster’s coverage of the event.
The Australian Monarchist League (AML) released a statement revealing it was preparing to file a legal complaint to the ABC’s board.
Philip Benwell, AML’s national chair, described the show as an ‘extremely biased pre-Coronation programme specifically designed to attack the Constitution and the Crown’.
‘So vitriolic are their attacks on the King, the monarchy, the British settlement and everything that came thereafter that they forget that they are the very people who want our vote for their Voice to the Parliament,’ Mr Benwell wrote.
Melbourne’s 3AW radio broadcaster Neil Mitchell slammed the public broadcaster.
He said ABC management needed to ‘be accountable’ over the coverage which ‘misread the mood’.
‘I really wonder sometimes why we feed these ABC people, I don’t blame the people on air, it’s whomever in management decides, “Ah, here’s a good idea, let’s use footage from London while we bag the living daylights out of the monarchy”,’ he said.
‘Somebody in the ABC needs to be accountable for this, as the national broadcaster it should have been the place you go to see the coverage of the coronation, instead you see all this bitterness about our Indigenous history.’
Freshly-departed ABC board member Joe Gersh told The Australian that he appreciated why people had concerns with the timing and tone of the coverage.
‘Management are dealing with complaints and criticisms,’ he said.
‘But yes, I can understand concerns about the appropriateness of the timing.’