From: Peter Clarke
Date: 15 February 2013
Subject: FAINE FINDINGS
Thank you so much for your recent reply in relation to the Jon Faine matter.
Unfortunately, your reply does not even begin to address our detailed questions and raises more questions than it answers.
For example, you point to section 5 of the guidelines to clarify how a person such as Faine might “appeal” or seek review of a negative finding. I have carefully read and parsed that section and all relevant sections. It is simply not clear how a person such as Faine has or can exercise a “right of appeal”.
By contrast, if the original complaint is to ACMA, the ABC as an entity seems to allocate to itself a defensive role on behalf of the complained against broadcaster.
For an internally based process, this seems much less clear.
Would you confirm that Jon Faine has a right under the complaints process to seek a review of the findings? How?
Has he sought such a review?
Has HE received the detailed reasons for the finding to authentically inform such an appeal against the findings?
Did the committee thoroughly document its investigative and decision-making process?
Is there in fact a detailed set of reasons on record?
What is actually stopping the ABC from publishing it if it exists?
Does Faine need the support of his managers to exercise any right of appeal (if he indeed has one) or is the process more independent and at arm’s length from the management chain of command. A close reading of the guidelines seems to indicate that the process is intimately bound up with management decision making processes and not more akin to an openly fair “legal” process.
Here is the nub of your problem.
Simply saying “there is no precedent” doesn’t change reality that this finding clearly is one. But one without published reasons tied to the details of the guidelines and the facts of the case.
The complex of inter-related relevant criteria and considerations to be applied in a complaints investigation only underscores this.
It IS intrinsically a precedent beyond any doubt. Our soundings inside the ABC reveal considerable confusion and insecurity following this finding. Abstract words in guidelines are one thing. Actual cases are another. ABC interviewers facing an election campaign need that sense of security and clarity to be effective.
I emphasise that key word “argumentative” in the negative Faine finding.
The key and central problem of clarity and transparency remains: no detailed reasons that make explicit the actual application of all those criteria IN CONTEXT has yet been published for the benefit of ABC interviewers nor for us the citizen consumers of ABC news journalistic services.
It is not simply an “internal matter”. It is a public one and very clearly a matter in the public interest.
We shall continue these articles, enquiries and analyses until a far more satisfactory outcome of openess and transparency from the ABC is achieved.
I look forward to your further assistance in this process including accurate and open answers to my questions in this email. We would expect nothing less from the national broadcaster.
Thank you, Mick.
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