Racing NSW has alleged the ABC committed “serious and numerous” breaches of its editorial policies and code of practice in its story on cruelty to retired racehorses.
In a 21-page formal complaint to the ABC, Racing NSW chairman Russell Balding claimed the two-year investigation – which showed confronting footage of racehorses being slaughtered at a Queensland abattoir – had breached accuracy and impartiality standards.
Balding, a former ABC managing director, sent the letter to the ABC’s current head David Anderson on Wednesday relating to 7.30’s The Final Race program, aired on October 17.
“There is unfairness at the core of the program’s approach and coverage of the issue,” a published summary of the letter read.
“In particular, the NSW racing industry is falsely and unfairly associated with such practices at Queensland’s Meramist Abattoir, in ways that state that the industry is complicit, knowledgeable, uncaring and/or indifferent.
“There is no effort by the program to explain that Racing NSW has no association with, or control over, Queensland’s Meramist Abattoir or was aware of the atrocities occurring at that facility.”
The body also took umbrage with the NSW racing industry being “disproportionately represented in the program with far more detail than any other state”.
“The viewer is given the incorrect impression that racing in NSW is the problem,” it wrote.
“In reality, Racing NSW was the only state to have had a rule that attempts to address the issues raised in the program.”
Balding claimed chief executive Peter V’landys wasn’t given the opportunity to view the abattoir vision, unlike others featured in the program, and wasn’t briefed on the interview’s “contentious nature”.
His complaint also touched on alleged misrepresentations, lack of independent verification of data and vision and factual inaccuracies.
According to the letter, Racing NSW inquiries found just one of 29 thoroughbreds “implied” to be NSW horses was sold to an abattoir by a person within their jurisdiction.
“Further, one horse, Reliable Kingdom, alleged by the program to have been ‘condemned to death’ is in fact alive,” the summary read.
Balding said it was disappointing the ABC and other parties involved in the production hadn’t attempted to contact authorities when made aware of the animal cruelty.
“If the ABC has any evidence of abuse of thoroughbreds within the jurisdiction of Racing NSW, we would expect that such evidence be brought to Racing NSW’s attention as soon as possible,” he wrote.
The ABC has been approached for comment.