ABC managing director David Anderson will push to get a wider range of viewpoints on the broadcaster’s panel shows to counter criticisms of bias. Picture: John Feder/The Australian.
ABC managing director David Anderson will push to get a wider range of viewpoints on the broadcaster’s panel shows to counter criticisms of bias. Picture: John Feder/The Australian.

New ABC boss suggests changes coming to Q&A

The ABC's managing director plans to tackle the perception of bias on the national broadcaster's panel shows, and has also revealed one of his predecessor Michelle Guthrie's key projects could be axed.

David Anderson, who was officially appointed to take over from sacked managing director Michelle Guthrie last month, has spoken out about the need to "improve on" the diversity of views on the ABC.

In a wide-ranging interview with Nine Newspapers, Mr Anderson also flagged that the ABC will review its digital website Life as it looks to find budget savings amid a government funding freeze.

"[From] time to time ... the perspective of views that we represent is something that we could improve on," Mr Anderson is quoted as saying.

Ita Buttrose, chair of ABC, with new managing director David Anderson. Picture: Supplied by ABC
Ita Buttrose, chair of ABC, with new managing director David Anderson. Picture: Supplied by ABC

The new managing director told Nine there was no evidence of systemic bias at the ABC but acknowledged its panel shows, including Q&A or The Drum, could be more diverse.

That could include more diverse political views, ethnic background or gender.

He said people may "rush to judgment" about the ABC being biased because it may have not "accurately reflected what would be the views of the country for whatever reason".

Mr Anderson also flagged the ABC's content and staff could face cuts as the broadcaster attempts to find savings to meet a three-year funding freeze implemented by the Turnbull Government which begins in July.

Q&A panel on Monday, June 10 2019. Source: ABC.
Q&A panel on Monday, June 10 2019. Source: ABC.

He said the broadcaster would "look to minimise" any impact on content but said it would be difficult to save $41 million in the final year "without some impact on our content or our staff".

It could include changes to the ABC's Life website, launched last August under Ms Guthrie as a lifestyle website to provide articles on food, wellbeing, gardening, sex and relationships.

"ABC Life is relatively new, I think we have set to review ABC Life in the coming months to see if it has done the job that we wanted ABC Life to do [and] look at its relative success," Mr Anderson said.

"That means quantitatively and qualitatively and assess what we do and whether we continue that or not."