25 September 2023

ABC shakes off science show finding

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The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has rejected a finding of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) that an episode of its science program, Catalyst was not impartial and was misleading.

The program, Feeding Australia: Foods of Tomorrow explored breakthroughs in food production that would help Australia find more sustainable ways to feed an expected population of 40 million by 2050.

ACMA said the program failed to present the production of beef with due impartiality, as it did for other foods.

In its response, the ABC said it disagreed with ACMA’s view that the program lacked impartiality and noted the Authority found the program’s description of the environmental impact of beef farming to be accurate and not misleading.

“The program, which started from the basis that Australians are efficient and effective farmers, looked at a wide variety of challenges and innovations related to several types of food production,” the ABC said.

“The underlying message of the program was that all traditional food industries face challenges in terms of sustainability and satisfying future demand.”

It said the program did not claim that the Australian livestock industry was unsustainable nor that red meat should not play a role as a food source in the future.

“The program did not take a critical stance towards beef any more than it took a critical stance towards traditional methods of other agricultural production,” the ABC said.

“Rather, the program examined sustainability concerns about several traditional food industries and explored possible future food sources that may be developed, capturing the interest and imagination of viewers by focusing on the foods and farms of tomorrow.”

“The ABC does not believe that the ACMA finding detracts from the relevance, accuracy and importance of the program,” the broadcaster said.

ACMA’s 52-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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