Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, February 17, 2004
FIRM BUT FLEXIBLE, that's Biffer Balding's policy on editorial comment by Auntie's presenters.

Senator SANTORO —In answer to question No. 172 from the November estimates the ABC said that management had spoken in a `frank and robust way' to Ms Linda Mottram, AM presenter, about her adherence to editorial policies and had `reaffirmed its confidence' in her commitment to those policies. Ms Mottram was later reported as saying, `Nobody is telling me to do anything differently on the basis of it.' Was the advice to Ms Mottram to modify her presentation?

Mr Balding —I am informed that Ms Mottram was advised of her obligations in respect of adherence to the ABC's editorial policies and guidelines and that it was a very frank and open discussion with Ms Mottram.

I guess a similarly frank and open discussion with silly season AM presenter Richard Acland led to this situation:

Senator SANTORO — I refer to the manner in which Mr Richard Ackland discharged his responsibilities as presenter of the morning show on Radio National in December and January, and specifically to the occasion on which he said in the context of the Hutton inquiry then under way in Britain that, `In Australia, if you lie, you get re-elected.' That is a direct quote. Do you believe that was an appropriate broadcast comment by one of your journalists?

Mr Balding —Again I am not aware of that comment. I would like to have a look at it. I will get hold of the transcript and I will go through it.

Go through it? The whole eight words! See you next year, Biff.

Well you can flog me with a feather if Biffer is not just the perfect manager for a class of pre-schoolers.