ABC Busted Providing Archive Footage to ‘Yes’ Campaign in Breach of Charter

11 September 2023

2.8 MINS

National broadcaster the ABC has once again put its finger on the scales of the Voice referendum to help the Yes campaign.

The taxpayer-funded ABC has been exposed for covertly supporting the Yes campaign, providing archival footage for a pro-Voice television commercial in blatant breach of its charter.

The national broadcaster gifted a lengthy 26 seconds of historic footage of the 1967 referendum and 5 seconds of audio to Uluru Dialogue, one of the main groups behind the upcoming referendum’s Yes campaign.

On Thursday, a spokesperson from the national broadcaster admitted to the “regrettable” decision, which “violated the public broadcaster’s archival footage policy”, as reported by the Daily Telegraph.

The ABC has provided no explanation for why the breach occurred.

The ABC’s charter requires it to be an “independent national broadcasting service”. According to its own website: “To preserve and protect the ABC’s independence and integrity, the ABC does not permit any of its content, logos, or intellectual property to be reproduced for political purposes.”

“Approval will not be granted for any use of ABC content or logos or any other intellectual property in political advertising or political messaging,” its website further clarifies.

The ABC’s misconduct was first uncovered by citizen journalist Rukshan Fernando, whose investigations ultimately forced the national broadcaster into confessing its transgression.

A Second Breach of ABC’s Charter

The act of misconduct is one of three embarrassing and ethically dubious decisions surrounding the ad, which had already generated controversy for its politicisation of the unofficial Aussie anthem, ‘You’re the Voice’ by John Farnham.

The second misdeed has been the ABC’s refusal to order Uluru Dialogue to take down the offending commercial, or edit out the contraband footage.

The national broadcaster states clearly on its website that anyone using ABC footage for political purposes “will be requested to immediately remove the ABC material, including from social networks or websites”.

At the time of writing, the Uluru Dialogue’s ad is still up on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and X, the site formerly known as Twitter, where it has been viewed millions of times.

The advertisement will begin appearing on televisions across Australia from Sunday, without any apparent resistance from the ABC.

On the contrary, the ABC has been eager to promote the Yes campaign ad to which it improperly contributed. Still available at the ABC’s website is a lengthy and sympathetic article endorsing the commercial and a radio interview with its creators.

A Third Strike: Fraudulent Editing

The third misdeed was an apparent attempt by Uluru Dialogue’s contractor to cover up the covert transaction by fraudulently applying a non-ABC business logo to the footage.

The Daily Telegraph reports:

The Yes camp has also been caught out using the wrong logo on that same ABC footage in the commercial, by randomly inserting the logo of a private Melbourne company called Australian Television Archive on it…

But the owner of Australian Television Archive James Paterson has called out the wrong use of his logo at the start of the commercial, saying he “nothing to do with the campaign, the agency or have any connection whatsoever to the footage our logo was placed on”.

“In regard to the unauthorised use of our logo I am not taking this lightly,” he said.

He said his brand reflected his reputation, image and trust built up over decades, and he was speaking about it to the advertising agency The Monkeys, which produced the ad.

“I am highly aware of the potential damage the unauthorised usage may inflict in ways we cannot fully predict,” Mr Paterson said.

Paterson also took to X to clear his name:

Warren Mundine’s Reaction to the ABC

Indigenous advocate Warren Mundine AO, who is one of the faces of the No campaign, has blasted the taxpayer-funded network for its political bias. He called the ABC’s misconduct “a joke”, and told The Australian, “I just find it bizarre that [someone] in the ABC actually did it… there should be a very, very serious investigation into this.”

“The ABC is the national broadcaster and they should be bipartisan,” he added.

Mr Mundine also called on the ABC to demand Uluru Dialogue delete its laundered footage.

“They should [delete it] because they were not supposed to be given that stuff,” he said. “If the Yes campaign is going to be honest about it, then they’ve got to remove it and hand it back.”

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  1. Jim Twelves 11 September 2023 at 8:24 am - Reply

    Kurt, thank you so much for this. I did catch a glimpse of the archive footage. I am sorry, but I have had no faith in the ABC’s integrity for over seven years now. Canberra should be hauling them over the coals and cutting their funding, especially in these times of financial stress.

  2. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich 11 September 2023 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    I Why is no one in the ABC being prosecuted ? We no longer live in a democracy., more like Putin’s media .

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