Tim Blair


New Criterion



Wednesday, May 26, 2004
WHEN ABC BOARD MEMBER, Ron Brunton wrote to MD Biffer Balding in March with his comments on Marr's Media Watch, the letter remained confidential until Biffer was fed a question in a Parliamentary committee yesterday.

When ABC staff-elected Board member Ramona Koval emailed Biffer her opposition to bias monitoring, the email was leaked immediately to David Marr at Media Watch. Marr spent several thousand of your dollars and mine attacking Biffer's decision.

It is clear enough from the circumstantial evidence that Brunton did not leak his own letter. It is equally clear that Koval did.
With a board meeting scheduled for today, the ABC board may want to ask Koval how Media Watch came to have a copy of her email which refers to confidential boardroom matters? The Australian asked Koval whether she leaked it. She refused to answer that question.

Having received and used the product of Koval's breach of her duty as a Director, Marr then attacked, in this week's Media Watch, another Board member, Leith Boully, for her alleged conflicts of interest.

While Koval is elected to act in the interests of all ABC stakeholders, she regularly reports to her staff 'constituency' on Board discussions and politics.

Apart from their biased, unprofessional and unbalanced role in this debate, why do Koval, Marr and their union bother to oppose monitoring at all?

The kinds of biased behaviour that monitoring can measure is easy to manipulate in such a way that the broadcaster appears to be acting impeccably.

Take this monitoring of the political complexion of the US's Public Broadcasting Service, America's independent equivalent of our kept woman, Auntie.
Looking at partisan sources—including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants—Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent). A majority of Republican sources when the GOP controls the White House and Congress may not be surprising, but Republicans held a similar though slightly smaller edge (57 percent to 42 percent) in 1993, when Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

The source is left-leaning, but there is no reason to doubt their arithmetic.

What Marr and Koval are defending, like the teachers' unions, is not their independence but their privilege.