Senator Eric Abetz – Estimates question about ABC use of the term Israeli blockade vs Egypt blockade

October 18, 2011

Questioned why the search term Israeli blockade is found more times than Egypt blockade in relation to the ABC website.

I asked about the number fully matching mentions of ‘Egypt blockade’, as opposed to ‘Israeli blockade’, and partial matches. In that answer, ‘Egypt blockade’ got 150 hits and ‘Israeli blockade’ got 399. On partially matching, it was 3,400 to 8,444. So being very conservative, as I am, Israel gets done over twice as often as Egypt. Does that suggest any indication of bias in the ABC’s reporting of the complex Middle East situation?

Whole interaction with Mr Mark Scott (ABC Managing Director) during Senate Estimates (Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Portfolio).

Senator ABETZ: I turn to question No. 81 from last time, taken on notice, in which we were talking about my allegation of anti-Israel bias. I asked about the number fully matching mentions of ‘Egypt blockade’, as opposed to ‘Israeli blockade’, and partial matches. In that answer, ‘Egypt blockade’ got 150 hits and ‘Israeli blockade’ got 399. On partially matching, it was 3,400 to 8,444. So being very conservative, as I am, Israel gets done over twice as often as Egypt. Does that suggest any indication of bias in the ABC’s reporting of the complex Middle East situation?

 

Mr Scott: We would say it is a complex situation. That is an online search engine result. I think that, to really get into any detail of it, you would need to look at the specific examples in the stories.

 

Senator ABETZ: This is what we are told every time. We have been through this time and time again.

 

Mr Scott: I think it stood last time and it stands now.

 

Senator ABETZ: I asked for the numericals. We now have the numbers, and they clearly show that there is a factor of two to one. Can you provide for us the links to the 150 ‘Egypt blockade’ examples. Take that on notice.

 

Mr Scott: I will take that on notice.

 

Senator ABETZ: See if you can, because if I google ‘abc.net.au’ and ‘Israeli blockade’ then I get 187 results. If I do it with ‘Egypt blockade’, I get only five results. I give that to you by way of information.

 

Mr Scott: Thanks.

Link to full Hansard transcript (Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Portfolio, 18 October 2011).

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