ABC is important

The shock sacking of the head of the ABC has brought the direction of the national broadcaster firmly into the national spotlight.
Managing director Michelle Guthrie claimed she had no knowledge of any dissatisfaction with her performance by the board and says her dismissal on Monday came as much of a surprise to her as it did to the rest of the nation.
Like Malcolm Turnbull’s sudden exit a few weeks before, solid reasons for the drastic action have not been forthcoming.
Not all the dirty laundry needs to be aired, but the taxpayers deserve a more detailed explanation than has so far been offered.
The ABC has, like all media organisations, been struggling to reposition itself in the modern digital landscape.
It is also the only media body guaranteed an income in excess of $1 billion by a benefactor (the taxpayer), an amount which has been dropping in real terms in recent years forcing people like Ms Guthrie to streamline operations while at the same time ensuring it delivers for all Australians – metropolitan, regional and remote.
It’s a high wire act and the board obviously felt she was dangerously wobbly.
It is fair to say the ABC has endured a sustained attack from both the Federal Liberal Government and News Corp on what they perceive as editorial bias and poor value for the taxpayer dollar.
News Corp would, as the ABC is a competitor in an increasingly tight market.
It must be noted the ABC has made editorial and programming mistakes for which it has refused to or been slow to apologise.
But despite its shortcomings, the ABC remains hugely popular.
The quality of its investigative reporting through programs such as Four Corners highlights the worth of a public broadcaster not compromised by commercial considerations.
Four Corners, Q&A and 7.30 regularly set news agendas ahead of the Government (aged care, banking and Don Dale Detention Centre royal commissions) and programs such as Australian Story, Landline and Insiders are accompanied by probing radio programs such as Background Briefing, Between the Lines, Counterpoint, Ockham’s Razor, AM, PM and The World Today.
The ABC might not be perfect, but every Australian is better for its existence.

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