ABC’s Most Complained About Show Revealed, W/ One Single Ep Getting Almost 2,000 Complaints

In a report by the ABC’s independent ombudsman, Fiona Cameron, the national broadcaster has shared which of its hundreds of programs received the most complaints in 2023. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t Play School.

As revealed by Cameron in the report released this week, the show that takes up the most of the ABC’s Customer Complaint inbox was none other than its long-running political panel show Q+A.

Over the course of 2023, Cameron’s report shared that Q+A received a total of 6,539 complaints — the highest of any ABC show over the last five years.

The ombudsman shared that a massive 51% of those complaints were in relation to how Q+A gave coverage of the Gaza conflict, accusing the show of bias.

Additionally, more than one in every ten complaints was in regards to how Q+A covered the Indigenous Voice To Parliament.

“While complaint numbers are a useful reflection of audience engagement, often content that is uncomfortable attracts more criticism,” Cameron said.

What’s almost impressive is that of the over 6,000 complaints, almost an THIRD of them were in regards to a single episode of the flagship TV show.

After an episode of Q+A featuring Mark Leibler, Nasser Mashni, Labor MP Tim Watts, ex-Liberal MP Dave Sharma, Francesca Albanese, and host Patricia Karvelas aired on November 13, the ABC became inundated with complaints.

Notably this episode of the the program that typically receives its questions from a live studio audience, elected not to have an audience present, in an (unsuccessful) effort to receive less criticism.

The episode’s total complaint tally was 1,974.

Fiona Cameron credited this astounding number of criticisms to what she described as an “organised campaign” to allege the ABC had a bias towards Israel in the Gaza conflict.

“The strong reaction to the war episode of Q+A saw an increase in complaints alleging bias and inappropriate content across the reporting period,” she stated.

However the statistical divide of complaints suggests the accusations of bias came from both sides, with 58% alleging the episode heavily favoured Israel, and 41% alleging the episode favoured Palestine.

These complaints came just a month before the ABC’s Melbourne HQ was targeted by a spray-paint protest that scrawled “Tell the truth about Palestine” in paint over the building’s windows.

In regards to how the ABC goes forward with covering tense topics, Cameron advised that avoiding being fearful is the best way to progress.

“The ABC needs to be mindful of this tension to avoid being fearful of delivering on charter obligations, while being thick skinned enough to clarify and explain decisions and apologise where appropriate,” she instructed.

This journalist would argue that if the ABC really wants to find a way to bring its number of complaints down, it should bring back Prank Patrol.

Or at the very least, let Scott Tweedie host an episode of Q+A. You know he’s already capable of working with cheeky children, so dealing with politicians should be light work.