The ABC’s premier discussion panel program Q&A has come under fire during Senate estimates hearings this week, with Liberal senator James McGrath telling ABC Managing Director Mark Scott to include more panellists who don’t lean so far to the left.
Mr McGrath claims that there is a widespread view within the Coalition that the program is biased against the conservative side of politics.
“If you spoke to any Coalition MP – even those [who] appear on it – they’d admit the program does lean to the left,” said Mr McGrath. “We have a flagship program here that consistently shows bias [against] those on the right or centre-right of politics.
He added: “There will be someone from right of centre – on a good week two people who are centre or right of centre – and then three people who are clearly left of centre or clearly not supporters of the Coalition. I’m interested in how that comes about and how steps are not taken to ensure there are more balanced panels.”
Senator McGrath’s claims come as no surprise to Mr Scott, with the Managing Director stating that “It is not the first time I’ve heard that depiction.” However, Mr Scott still believes that Q&A serves its purpose by allowing a diverse range of views and issues to be presented to the Australian public.
He also stated that it’s up to the viewers to determine who are the winners and losers of Q&A discussions based on who makes the strongest points, and whilst the program generally ensures that one left-wing politician is featured along with one from the right, other panellists aren’t usually so easy to categorise politically.
Mr Scott has agreed to conduct a survey sample of the issues that are discussed on the program.
Senator McGrath was quoted during his maiden speech to Parliament last year that the ABC should be privatised and replaced by a “rural and regional broadcasting corporation” if it doesn’t address its alleged left-wing bias.
“I want to support the ABC. I like the ABC,” he said. “Yet while it continues to represent only inner-city leftist views, and funded by our taxes, it is in danger of losing its social licence to operate.”
Do you think Q&A is biased to the left? Or do you feel that Q&A already presents balanced news and opinions? Do you feel that the current format makes for good viewing? Is Q&A too ‘Sydney-centric’? Would you like to see the program telecast from other locations around Australia? Or are you happy with the way information is presented?
Read more at The Age.