Senator Eric Abetz – Estimates question about ABC coverage of Israeli air strikes on Gaza

photo of Senator Eric Abetz
October 23, 2018

Questioned ABC coverage of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

Can I quickly turn to the reporting on Sunday, 15 July, by the ABC television news bulletin lead item which began, ‘The Israeli military has launched a wave of air strikes against dozens of militant targets in the Gaza Strip’… Why wasn’t it worthy to contextualise that in this story by the ABC?

Whole interaction with Mr David Anderson (Acting Managing Director, ABC) during Senate Estimates (Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Communications and the Arts Portfolio).

Senator ABETZ: Can I quickly turn to the reporting on Sunday, 15 July, by the ABC television news bulletin lead item which began, ‘The Israeli military has launched a wave of air strikes against dozens of militant targets in the Gaza Strip.’ That story omitted completely the critical context that in the previous 24 hours Israeli citizens in the south of the country had seen over 170 rockets and mortars attack them, which in turn followed weeks of firebombs delivered by kites, balloons and—very imaginative—inflated condoms. So the 170 rockets and mortars into Israel were fired in the preceding 24 hours during the Jewish Sabbath, and were aimed at residential areas. They hit a home, a children’s playground and a synagogue. Why wasn’t it worthy to contextualise that in this story by the ABC? It breathlessly tells us that the Israeli military launched a wave of air strikes, not saying that it is in retaliation to 170 rocket attacks which included a children’s playground, a synagogue and residential areas. Isn’t that the sort of balance that we actually expect from the national broadcaster? Why is it, when it comes to Israel, the ABC is never able to provide that sort of balance? Do we have an explanation, Mr Anderson?

 

Mr Anderson : Senator, I don’t have an explanation for you on that. All I can give you is an undertaking of the details you’ve given to look into the reporting of the details of the story.

 

Senator ABETZ: As I understand it, section 8 of the ABC Act requires reporting to be ‘accurate and impartial according to the recognized standards of objective journalism’. One would have thought that not talking about the fact that Israel had been subjected to these 170 rocket and mortar attacks on the Jewish Sabbath, with synagogues, playgrounds and residential areas being targeted, might just be of interest to the ABC audience. Why is this sort of material missed out? You’ve got to say it must be deliberately missed out, because I could not expect a journalist to be so negligent.

 

Mr Anderson : Impartiality and accuracy is something that we simply have to do. I’m not familiar with the report, nor do I know if we’ve had a complaint about it until now.

Link to full Hansard transcript.

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