The government-funded ABC has endured continuing budget pressures and a chorus of noisy critics over the past year.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation commissioned a survey about the public broadcaster during a time critics were at their noisiest – and the results were a pleasant surprise.
The survey came amid a challenging year for the government-funded media organisation.
“A noisy chorus of critics has been in full voice,” managing director Mark Scott said in speech to Queensland University of Technology students in Brisbane on Friday.
“As always, there have been controversial stories. We have needed to apologise for some editorial judgments.
“Budgets have been cut, a contract for a key service was torn up, and suggestions have been made that we are not working in the national interest.”
Mr Scott noted one senator even suggested putting chunks of the ABC up for sale, possibly as a precursor to selling it off.
The ABC commissioned Newspoll, the polling organisation owned in part by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation Australia, to gather data on how the organisation was viewed by the public.
“After all that noise, as if asking for trouble, Newspoll then went out and asked the Australian public what they thought of the ABC,” Mr Scott said.
“The results reminded me of the scene from the Old Testament after the wind, after the earthquake, after the fire, Elijah hears the still, small voice of calm.
“The public view of the ABC is both calm and clear.”
He said the survey also showed the ABC had strong approval ratings.
The ABC faces future funding cuts, but the size of cutbacks has not yet been determined.
More than 70 jobs were lost due to cuts to Radio Australia and other ABC international services after the federal government scrapped the $223 million 10-year contract for ABC’s Australia Network Television.
“Yes, funding has been cut and we expect, will be cut more,” Mr Scott said.
“Yes, audiences in the digital age are always on the move.
“And yes, there will be a period of transition ahead for us.
“But we believe the ABC has a great, promising future.”