Saturday, 12 May 2018

Time to show support for the ABC

The situation in 2018.......

The Guardian, 8 May 2018:

Dear colleagues,

The government has tonight announced it will freeze the ABC’s annual funding indexation for three years from July 2019, which will cost the organisation $84m. This will be compounded by the decision to cease a further $43m in funding to support quality news and current affairs services and follows the cumulative $254m in cuts imposed since 2014.

This decision comes at a critical time for us. As you are all aware from our conversations following this year’s annual public meeting, we are at a watershed moment as a public broadcaster as we continue to strive to deliver the high standards of programming Australian audiences expect, despite escalating global competition and rising production costs.

Let me be frank with you: I am very disappointed and concerned that after the measures we have introduced in recent years to deliver better and more efficient services, the government has now seen fit to deliver what amounts to a further substantial budget cut. This decision will make it very difficult for the ABC to meet its charter requirements and audience expectations.

However, we will continue to pursue our strategy during triennial funding negotiations with the government this year to achieve the proper levels of funding we require to meet the expectations of not only our current audiences but those of the next generation.

Our priorities have and always will be to our audiences and the programming we create for them. Our success in this is a tribute to the talent, dedication and high-quality work of our teams right across the country and the world.

Our public interest journalism, breaking news coverage and independent analysis are highly valued by the community, including across regional Australia. The drama, comedy and children’s content we deliver every hour are likewise important to the cultural life of the country. And services like triple j, RN and ABC Local remain crucial channels for audiences everywhere to join the national conversation.

Unfortunately, the government has overlooked this contribution and the trust and value more than 80% of Australians place in us as an independent national broadcaster.
In a statement in response I have made clear this decision will have an impact on our audiences.

We will continue to oppose the decision and seek every opportunity to reverse the cuts in the coming months before they take effect.

Michelle Guthrie, Statement, 8 May 2018:

The Government’s decision to freeze the ABC’s indexation from July 2019 will cost the broadcaster $84 million over three years and will be compounded by the decision to cease a further $43 million in funding to support quality news and current affairs services.

This decision comes at a critical time for the ABC as it commences triennial funding negotiations with the Government and comes on top of a cumulative $254 million in cuts imposed since 2014.

The ABC’s independence and its commitment to in-depth analysis and commentary has never been more valued or trusted by Australian audiences, nor so critical to the challenges facing the nation.

ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie said the impact of the decision could not be absorbed by efficiency measures alone, as the ABC had already achieved significant productivity gains in response to past budget cuts.

“The ABC is now more important than ever given the impact of overseas players in the local media industry and the critical role the ABC plays as Australia’s most trusted source of news, analysis and investigative journalism,” Ms Guthrie said.

“Our talented and dedicated content makers consistently deliver award winning public interest journalism, regional services and critically acclaimed original Australian programs and content.

“Stable, adequate funding is essential if we are to continue to deliver for Australian audiences.”

The ABC’s long-term strategy published at an Annual Public Meeting in February 2018 outlines the broadcaster’s plan to respond to changing audience expectations, and to remain as relevant in the future as it always has been in the past.

The ABC will continue to negotiate its funding requirements with the Government to ensure it can deliver on this commitment to a future which ensures the ABC remains relevant in the digital age.

Ms Guthrie also rejected as unnecessary the proposed efficiency review given efficiency programs introduced by the ABC in recent years.

Time to pick up that pen and object to this funding freeze........

Prime Minister Hon. Malcolm Bligh Turnbull MP
Parliament House
Canberra, ACT 2600
PH: (02) 6277 7700
FAX: (02) 6273 4100

Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Michael McCormack MP
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
PH: 02) 6277 7520

Minister for Communications and Minister for the Arts Senator Hon. Mitch Fifield
Parliament House
Canberra, ACT 2600
PH: (02) 6277 7480

Minister for Regional Communications Senator Hon. Bridget McKenzie
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
PH: (02) 6277 3200
FAX: (02) 6277 5755

Local MPs by Electorate contact details here.

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