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ABC forums valuable, minister believes

AAP logoAAP 28/11/2016

The communications minister won't say whether he believes the ABC board is out of touch even though he's agreed to a deal for regular community forums.

While minister Mitch Fifield says the forums agreed to with Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm are a good mechanism for the board to hear from the public, he acknowledges nothing changes the public broadcaster's statutory independence.

"But I know that the ABC board would value this opportunity to hear from members of the public," he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

However, Senator Fifield would not say whether he thought the ABC and its board were out of touch.

"It's good for all of us to get out and about," he said.

"You've always got to work hard to make sure that you stay in touch, whether you're a member of parliament, whether you're a broadcaster, whether you're a board member of the ABC."

The government struck the deal with Senator Leyonhjelm as a "freedom offset" in exchange for his support to restore a Howard-era building industry watchdog.

Under the deal, at least half of ABC and SBS board meetings must be followed by open community board forums and at least two each year held in regional areas.

Senator Leyonhjelm said there was a perception the public broadcasters didn't represent the community, especially in regional areas.

He cited demographer Bernard Salt's description claiming the ABC and SBS lived inside the "goat's cheese curtain".

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