The ABC is run by a government-appointed board, but programming and editorial decisions are made at arm's length from the government of the day. The political bias of the ABC's news and current affairs coverage is endlessly debated. Conservatives claim that the ABC tends towards the political left wing; liberals and socialists contend that the opposite is true. There are more complaints from conservatives.
Unlike the BBC, the ABC is funded through a government grant-in-aid.
In recent years there has been turmoil on the administrative front, with successive Boards of Directors under pressure from the conservative Howard Government. Despite government funding, the ABC is largely independent.
The ABC broadcasts a wide range of content, to match the broad social makeup of Australia. On ABC Television, this ranges from British comedy programs such as The League of Gentlemen and Absolutely Fabulous to children's programs such as Sesame Street and its own Play School. It produces specialist programs for rural viewers (such as 'Landline'), a large range of high quality current affairs programmes (notably 'The 7:30 Report' and Four Corners), whose number of foreign reporters is unmatched by other Australian networks. It also produces Australian drama and comedy. Recent notables have included the ratings hit Kath and Kim and Grassroots, joining the crypt of Australian TV treasures: Frontline, The Games and Mother and Son.
Its radio networks include:
ABC local radio, a succession of stations broadcasting light entertainment, talkback, and some current affairs and most popular with older audiences;
Triple J, a national youth radio network;
Radio National, a nationwide network devoted to intellectual discussion of politics, science, philosophy, the arts, literature, and the like;
ABC Classic FM, another nationwide classical-music station;
and ABC NewsRadio, a 24-hour news station that also broadcasts the proceedings of federal Parliament when in session.
The ABC also operates Radio Australia, the international shortwave service with transmissions aimed at Asia and the Pacific Islands featuring programmes in various languages in these regions. Radio Australia concentrates on news and current affairs, but it also features historical documentaries, information about Australian lifestyle and culture, and light entertainment.