The Ten Network: Fake news is just another name for lies

George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan at the Masterchef Australia Network Ten launch party. Graham Denholm/Getty Images

Ten Network chairman David Gordon today criticised the fake news trend and the apparent inability of big social media companies to monitor the truth.

He didn’t name the social media companies but appeared to be taking aim at Facebook which has been singled out for unchecked fake news, spreading untruths and propaganda.

Gordon says news programs have a duty to shine a light on the words and actions of public figures and to ensure the community gets the truth.

“I believe that it is not acceptable that social media and other online businesses, some of the largest companies in the world with enormous resources, employing thousands of the smartest people, and accessing billions of citizens on this planet, can claim to be unable to monitor and ensure that the truth is delivered on their sites,” he told the company’s AGM.

He says the news and current affairs teams at Ten, and other reputable media businesses, are there to hold public figures to account and to provide context and clarity.

“The work is neither simple nor obvious and relies on the professional skill and judgement of the journalist. We are not perfect, and occasionally we might err, but where we do we are held accountable by the regulator.

“In my opinion, ‘fake news’ is just lies and deception by another name.”

He says nothing less than the truth should be acceptable to those social media companies.

“Given the size of their audiences, their global impact and the fact that they are almost entirely unregulated, we should hold them to an even higher standard,” he says.

“If they choose to be media businesses, as they have, then they have a responsibility to their stockholders, to their employees, to their advertisers and to all of us — and we should all hold them accountable.”

CEO Paul Anderson told the AGM that television revenue was up 1.9% for the first quarter of the current financial year.

In October, the Ten Network posted a full year loss of $156.8 million despite a 5.4% rise in revenue to $689.5 million.

Much of the loss was from a non-cash expense of $125.3 million, including a television licence impairment charge of $135.2 million and a net gain of $23.1 million on the sale of the Out-of-Home business.

The company then said increased competition from online players who don’t have to pay licence fees was a major challenge.

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