The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) appears to have sunk to a new low in journalistic standards in its recent report on 5G.
The 45-minute ABC Four Corners episode, titled ‘The Truth about 5G’, which was aired on 3 August 2020, claimed to be investigating ‘the rise of the anti-5G movement and the spread of wild conspiracy theories tying the COVID-19 pandemic to the 5G rollout’.
Oddly, despite the purported object of its investigation, the Four Corners report didn’t reveal a single Australian anti-5G activist blaming the COVID-19 pandemic on 5G. SSMA asks if the focus on ‘wild conspiracy theories’ is another media beat-up big on sensationalism – and short on facts?
The only, albeit tenuous, connection that Four Corners managed to elicit was the less than earth-shattering observation, from registered nurse Naomi Cook, that the explosion in anti-5G Facebook members during the pandemic is because people have more time to think, research and ask questions.
However, Paul Fletcher, Minister for Communications and Cyber Safety, appears to be a dyed-in-the-wool subscriber to 5G conspiracy theories. Four Corners reports him as stating in relation to 5G that ‘it is well accepted by commentators and experts in the subject of misinformation and disinformation that there are known State actors involved in circulating and generating disinformation’.
Given that the Four Corners’ investigation didn’t flush out any Australian anti-5G activists blaming the pandemic on 5G, how did the ‘truth about 5G’, and Four Corners’ claim to be ‘examining the scientific studies undertaken into whether the technology is actually a threat to our health’ fare?
Sadly, Four Corners did not see fit to interview a single one of the many scientists who has researched the health risks of wireless electromagnetic radiation and considers it NOT to be safe.
This shows a blatant disregard for Standard 4.2 in the ABC’s Code of Practice, which places a requirement to ‘Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented’.
Instead, the ABC’s audience was presented with a paltry band of pro-5G so-called experts. These included Prof Rodney Croft, a psychology researcher with a distinct lack of bio-medical qualifications; interestingly, Four Corners reporter, Sean Nicholls, made no mention of Croft’s field of expertise and instead appeared to be overawed by Croft’s position as Chairman of ICNIRP – a dubious private organisation that lacks accountability.
Prof Malcolm Sim, Director, Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, was also called upon, in relation to the WHO’s classification of radiofrequency radiation as a possible human carcinogen, back in 2011. However, significant research has been undertaken since 2011 and the evidence on human cancer risks from radiofrequency radiation has strengthened. A number of scientists consider that there is now a compelling case for upgrading the Group 2B classification to the highest category – to that of Group 1, a human carcinogen.
But again, Four Corners made no attempt to inquire into the current science in regard to the status of radiofrequency radiation and seemed to be content with relaying out-of-date information.
This appears to be a direct breach of Standard 2.1, which requires journalists to ‘Make reasonable efforts to ensure that material facts are accurate and presented in context’.
Rather than adhering to the ABC’s stated aim of being ‘Brave in reporting without fear or favour, even when that might be uncomfortable or unpopular’, it seems Four Corners has kowtowed to government and industry interests – at the expense of its obligations to the Australian people.
In view of the dismal quality of the Four Corners investigation into 5G, SSMA urges any followers who find this concerning to consider placing a complaint with the ABC. The relevant Standard of the Code of Practice which you believe may have been breached should be specified.
Complaints can be made within six weeks of the date of broadcast either to the ABC’s online Complaint Form or by writing to:
Audience and Consumer Affairs
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
GPO Box 9994, in the capital city of your State or Territory
Details of what should be contained in your complaint are outlined in the section titled ‘How to make a complaint’, at the end of the Code. As mentioned in this section, if you are dissatisfied with the ABC’s response, or if you have not received a response within 60 days of making your complaint to the ABC, then you are entitled to complain to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA).
To view The Truth about 5G, or to access the transcript of the episode, go here.
A rebuttal of the program is available here.