The Fraser government commissioned this inquiry in 1979, as the national broadcaster approached its 50th anniversary. The inquiry was chaired by Alex Dix and came to be known as "the Dix inquiry".
The inquiry found that:
The ABC is now nearly 50 years old, and in the last decade its record has faltered. However, this has not been entirely the fault of the organisation, nor of any individual or group within it. The ABC has been led into changes which have ended nowhere, such as the experiment with access radio; on the other hand it has remained aloof from other directions of obvious change, such as multicultural broadcasting. It has stood on its dignity and independence when pressing priorities cried out for attention.
It has tried to maintain an idea of Australian society after that idea has undergone change. Its energies have been sapped by often bitter industrial conflict. It has not only slipped from the forefront of change but threatens to be eclipsed by it. The ABC has become slow moving, overgrown, complacent, and uncertain of the direction in which it is heading despite the efforts of many talented and dedicated people who work for it.
The review urged fundamental change, making 273 wide-ranging recommendations on the future objectives, powers and policies of the ABC.
It urged the ABC to become more innovative and competitive, and to do more to market itself. It recommended that, while maintaining quality programming, "the organisation must become more entrepreneurially minded, it must overcome its distaste for the commercial". It also required the ABC the embrace cultural and demographic diversity, stating that the "ABC has a duty to provide programs to Australian society as a whole and its constituent community elements."
Several of the report's recommendations were implemented when the Hawke government passed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983. As a result of the Act, the ABC's radio and television divisions were separated, and editorial responsibility was decentralised to allow greater input from states and regions. Other changes included creating of a board of directors, establishing the position of managing director, and requiring the ABC to report annually to Parliament.