ABC Chairman Maurice Newman's criticism of the media's coverage of global warming is extraordinary and inappropriate,” said Glenys Stradijot, a spokesperson for Friends of the ABC (Vic).

“Mr Newman is entitled to his personal views on controversial matters. But his expression of them while he remains head of the ABC damages public confidence in the national broadcaster’s independence.

"Just as worrying, Mr Newman's comments look to be an attempt to influence ABC programming to be more favourable to global warming scepticism.”

Should problems arise with the ABC’s reporting on any matter, it is the managing director who should raise them with staff. The MD is the editor-in-chief and responsible for the ABC's journalistic standards, not the chairman.

"Mr Newman needs to explain why he took the step of criticising the media's coverage of global warming and why he addressed that criticism to ABC staff.

"It is difficult not to consider Mr Newman’s comments in the light of him being a former director of the right-wing Centre for Independent Studies. Together, they most certainly highlight the importance of legislation presently before the Parliament for a new transparent and merit-based process for appointing the chair and members of the ABC Board," said Glenys Stradijot