Facing internal pressure from Victorian Liberals: Tony Abbott.
Tony Abbott is facing internal pressure from Victorian Liberals to privatise the ABC and SBS if he wins the September 14 election amid claims both organisations are struggling to comply with their charters.
State Liberals have launched a push ahead of the election to sell the public broadcasters, arguing the funds raised should be used to pay off government debt.
The Victorian Liberal Party's state conference this weekend will vote on a motion urging the federal Coalition to make a full-scale ''operational review'' of the ABC and SBS to ''look at the feasibility of partial or full privatisation of both''.
Need for the Coalition to address concerns: John Roskam. Photo: Matthew Bayard
The motion says the original arguments for public ownership and operation of the ABC and SBS are ''no longer valid in 2013'', arguing both broadcasters ''aggressively compete'' with private media outlets in a ''high-velocity public information environment''.
''Public ownership of like corporations is not compatible with Coalition policies,'' the motion says. ''In a complex communication market where media outlets are required to set the agenda, ABC/SBS are finding it increasingly difficult to comply with their respective charters, thereby alienating constituents.''
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's spokesman said it was a healthy debate, although it was ''not Coalition policy'' to examine the privatisation of the ABC.
But many Liberals are adamant about the need for a review amid claims of left-leaning bias.
Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam said it was becoming ''more apparent by the day'' that concerns about public ownership and bias would need to be addressed if the Coalition won the September 14 election.
''This issue holding back the Coalition from properly assessing the future of the ABC is a perception of strong support for the ABC in rural and regional areas,'' Mr Roskam said. ''This is something the Coalition is going to have to address. Talk to Coalition MPs as the election comes closer and there is an even stronger view … that the ABC is barracking for one side.''
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the motion was a ''clear warning'' of the policies to expect if the Coalition wins the next election. He said federal opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull ''should immediately rule out this extreme position and recommit the Coalition to keeping the national broadcasters in public hands''.