News that the ABC is set to review its complaints-handling system may have come as a surprise to people who didn’t already know that complaining about the ABC’s output was, indeed, possible.
The broadcaster has long maintained a thorough complaints handling system, which is managed by the Audience and Consumer Affairs department.
Anyone can make a complaint about an ABC programme, whether it be a matter simply of taste or far more serious accusations about breaches of editorial standards.
The last review of the ABC complaints process, by Maurice Newman and Paul Chadwick, took place in 2008.
At that time, it was found that the system was functioning well, though some aspects were refined and updated.
This time the review will be headed by former Commonwealth and NSW Ombudsman Professor John McMillan AO, and Jim Carroll, who is a former SBS News Director and Head of News and Public Affairs for the Ten Network.
The review will examine the issue: How well does the ABC manage external complaints and feedback about compliance with ABC editorial standards?
According to an ABC statement, Managing Director David Anderson said:
The ABC’s commitment to the highest editorial standards and stringent complaints processes are why it remains one of the nation’s most trusted public institutions. This review will assist the ABC to maintain its commitment to continuous quality improvement.
The review follows media statements by Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, who called for the system to be looked at after a pro-Israeli lobby group was angered by the dismissal of its own complaint about a QandA programme.