The Anglican Primate of Australia, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, has expressed concern at an apparently diminished commitment to serious coverage of religion by the national broadcaster, the ABC.
In an interview with The Australian newspaper, Dr Freier criticised the ABC for giving “vague” assurances to religious leaders who twice met the CEO to request the ABC honour its charter and commit to maintaining the standard of coverage.
He told the newspaper: “We were seeking to engage with the board but all the communications back to us have been triumphalism about the ABC’s performance when we know from other sources that the amount of content used is much less and the amount of resources being put into it is much less.
“I’m concerned about the blurring of religions and ethics as one topic. I think they are both important topics but putting them together obscures the distinctiveness of how religions are differently structured to ethics.”
He was also concerned about reports that the ABC planned to make redundant its executive producer of religion, Jane Jeffes.
Former South Australian Premier Lynn Arnold, now an Anglican minister, who attended the recent meeting with ABC CEO Michelle Guthrie, said removing Ms Jeffes would weaken the ABC’s religious programming. Dr Arnold said the restructure differed from Ms Guthrie’s assurance to religious leaders in November.
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Picture: Jane Jeffes