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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 3018

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

(Question No. 580)

Senator Abetz asked the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, upon notice, on 8 April 2011:

Given that:

(a) the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has previously advised that '[a]cross all news and current affairs coverage, its decisions about reportage are guided by judgements of news value and public interest';

(b) Ms Anna Baltzer, Dr Jeff Halper, Colonel Richard Kemp and Ms Nitsana Darshan-Leitner are all prominent commentators on Israel-related matters, and that Ms Baltzer and Dr Halper are highly critical of Israel whereas Colonel Kemp and Ms Darshan-Leitner are strongly supportive, and that all have visited Australia within the past several years; and

(c) in relation to Israel, neither Colonel Kemp nor Ms Darshan-Leitner received any ABC coverage whereas Ms Baltzer and Dr Halper received substantial ABC coverage:

Can an explanation be provided by the ABC as to why the exercise of its judgements of news value and public interest resulted in such widely disparate ABC coverage in the above cases.

Senator Conroy: The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

The ABC does not accept that its coverage of Israel is " widely disparate " . A number of Israeli experts have also featured in ABC news stories, for example Mark Regev, Israeli Government spokesman; Martin Indyk, Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy at Brookings; Ehud Yaari, a prominent analyst and commentator on the Middle East and international fellow of the Washington Institute; Eli Yerushalmi, the deputy chef de mission at the Israeli Embassy, Canberra; Alan Dershowitz, lawyer; and Yuval Rotem, the Israeli Ambassador to Canberra.

The ABC regularly includes a broad range of perspectives in its reporting on events in the Middle East. In all cases, the ABC believes the coverage was appropriate, and that the overall coverage has been balanced and included principal relevant views.