Bias on our national broadcaster

For a long time, various voices across the Australian political landscape (such as Senator James McGrath) have accused the Australian Broadcasting Corporation of bias. It tursn out that the data is pretty clear: the ABC does not report on the Labor Party more favorably than the Liberal party.

However, I suspect there is in fact bias at the ABC. Not in the reporting of politics, but in the reporting of sport. I believe the ABC is biased to run more stories about Australian Rules Football than about Rugby.

But, unlike Sen. McGrath and co. I’m not going to make idle claims…I’ll check the data.

To do this, I needed a data set. The ABC runs a great twitter handle (@ABCgrandstand) which tweets about all the new stories on the sport pages. And, there is a great function available on the MATLAB File Exchange called twitty which interfaces with the twitter API and pulls out lots of stuff that you might want to run your analysis on. One of the functions the twitter API has is called user_timeline and it pulls out every tweet a specified user has posted (with some limits).

So, I used twitty and wrote this code to pull out all the tweets from @ABCgrandstand between 7 June and 18 July (there were 2107 tweets in this window). I then checked each tweet for the strings ‘AFL’ and ‘NRL’. And this was the result:


There is a bias! The ABC reports on more stories about the AFL than the NRL.

So, its clear where the bias is in the ABC!

The next step will be to check the sentiment of the tweets about the AFL and NRL to see if the ABC reports more favorably about the AFL too.


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