An ABC board meeting being held today is set to determine the fate of Monday night stalwart Q&A, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, following a tumultuous few months for the program – on the heels of Tony Abbott and his ministers’ boycott of the live panel.
Moving Q&A from the ABC’s Entertainment division into the News division will be under discussion at today’s board meeting, SMH reports. Greenlighting Q&A’s move to ABC News is likely to prompt Tony Abbott to lift his ban on Coalition frontbenchers appearing on the panel, as expressed by the Prime Minister last month.
The Herald today quotes an ABC source, claiming the program’s divisional shift would be unprecedented in ABC’s history, or: “the biggest example of editorial interference I’ve ever heard of.”
To refresh your memory—because time flies on the internet, and the scandal is currently gathering dust in the archives—tensions between the Abbott Government and the ABC escalated in late June this year, after controversial figure Zaky Mallah posed a question to the Q&A panel over the discourse surrounding young Australians joining ISIS.
In the days that followed, Prime Minister Tony Abbott branded Q&A a “lefty lynch mob” before imposing the frontbencher boycott of the panel. Soon after, ABC offices imposed a temporary security lockdown following a series of complaints and threats over the program.
Former ABC Chairman, climate change conspiracy theorist and Abbott’s chief business advisor Maurice Newman criticised the public broadcasting model in a piece for The Australian today, branding the present system as “broken“.
Will the ABC bite the bullet, and shift their editorial focus of Q&A, kowtowing to pressure applied by the Abbott Government? Only the results of today’s meeting will tell – but continuing to broadcast with only half of Parliament willing to make an appearance could cause the program to crumble. It’s a far cry from the program’s original, bipartisan premise.
Then again, perhaps ALL politicians could boycott the program – replaced indefinitely by vivacious astrophysicists every week. Wouldn’t be mad at all, tbh.
Business as usual.