In this week’s federal budget, the ABC came out worst off, with a freeze in its indexation funding amounting to a reduction of $84 million over three years.
The government says the reduction is aimed to ensure the national broadcaster “finds efficiencies.” The ABC says there are no more efficiencies to find and that the cuts will mean job cuts.
Overall, the ABC will receive $1.117 million in allocated funds, while SBS has been allocated $386 million, an increase in last year following the government’s inability to pass legislation that would have allowed SBS to broadcast more advertisements.
Community Broadcasting has been allocated a slight reduction in DOCA funding from $21.6 million this year to $19.5 million next year, remaining steady in the two years after that.
The ABC says 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 budget papers say:
The full budget document for the Communications and Arts portfolios can be found here. ABC funding details can be found from page 70 onwards.