As the ABC’s critics line up to trash it in the lead-up to a Federal Election, it’s important to be armed with the truth about its overwhelming popular support.
For an ABC Friend to be ready to advocate for our precious public broadcaster, it is always good to be armed with some facts.
Firstly, there is ABC Friends Victoria’s own independent polling, which showed an extraordinary level of public support for restoring full funding.
We commissioned the independent and respected polling organisation Roy Morgan to conduct a poll last year, which showed that more than three-quarters of Australians either wanted the funding cuts to stop or funding actually increased.
The Roy Morgan research found that almost half of Australians thought funding to the ABC should be increased, around 27% thought it should be maintained, and only 9% felt that funding should be decreased.
The top reasons for supporting an increase in government funding for the ABC were:
- ABC provides a good service (28%)
- Currently underfunded (25%)
- Independent (18%)
- Represents Australia (18%)
- Important source of information (17%)
- Objective and unbiased reporting (16%).
The Australia Institute also published a research document last year, which, similarly, showed overwhelming support for the ABC.
Its report found:
- An increasing share of Australians agree with the general proposition that the ABC’s funding should be increased (35%, vs 12% who think it should be reduced).
- When additional funding is associated with the ABC’s emergency role, support rises dramatically to three in four Australians (75%), with 39% in strong support.
- The Liberal Party’s federal council motion to privatise the ABC (except some operations in regional areas) is opposed by three in five Australians (59%).
- More Coalition voters oppose the motion (45%) than support it (31%).
- The ABC and SBS remain significantly better trusted than the commercial media, and the ABC remains the most trusted news source in Australia.
- Trust in the ABC has increased dramatically since the question was first asked in 2013 (from 41% to 58% in 2019).
According to the 2020 ABC News Annual report, the ABC remains the most trusted source of news in the country.
The report said:
The huge news events of the Black Summer bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the value of ABC News to the Australian community as never before. In March 2020, 84% of Australians surveyed agreed ABC News ‘is a valuable source of news to the Australian community’ and 72% agreed it is ‘Australia’s most trusted source of news and current affairs’.
While news and media consumption were at an all-time industry high, ABC News, with its heritage and trust, experienced greater audience increases than most other players, especially digital coverage. ABC News became Australia’s No 1 digital news brand in January  and has remained there. In March, its unique digital audience of 15.2 million – 61% of the population – was a record for any digital news brand in Australia, and ABC News digital was ranked No. 1 for audience every day from 29 February to the end of the reporting period.
TV and radio audiences also soared. The ABC NEWS channel recorded its highest results ever, reaching 4.45 million metropolitan Australians on broadcast in the last week of March, while its livestreams on YouTube and ABC iview were up more than 300% and 200% respectively on the 2019 average.
Similarly, an independent 2020 Reuters Institute report found that the ABC was certainly more trusted than any other news source.
It’s interesting to note that News Limited outlets, which constantly criticise the ABC for being “biased,” trail far behind the public broadcaster in all available surveys on trust and popularity.