Cuts will result in redundancies and a reduction of services: ABC's Mark Scott | radioinfo

Cuts will result in redundancies and a reduction of services: ABC's Mark Scott

Tuesday 13 May, 2014
Mark Scott. Photo: ABC

Despite repeated commitments from the government before and after the election that funding for the ABC would be maintained, $120m worth of cut sfrom the national broadcasters budget over the next four years have been announced in the Federal Government’s May budget release.

Operational funding cuts of close to $40m over four years will come on top of the termination of the $220 million contract to deliver the international broadcasting service, Australia Network - we’ll have more on that later today.

On top of those funding cuts, the 2014-15 budget also foreshadows further significant cuts in the wake of the Lewis Review into the operations of the ABC and SBS.

“The funding cuts will be disappointing for audiences. The government gave repeated commitments before and after the election that funding for the Corporation would be maintained,” the ABC’s Managing Director, Mark Scott said.

In the ABC’s official budget response, Mr Scott said while the ABC would look to make its operations more efficient, the funding cuts would regrettably and inevitably result in redundancies and a reduction in services. The ABC Board and Executive would need time to work out the full impact and to review strategies and internal budgets.

“We will need to make funding cuts, while trying to also save money to invest in new priorities to ensure the ABC remains a compelling feature of the Australian media landscape – a public broadcaster in the digital era,” he said.

However the Mininster for Communification, Malcolm Turbull (left) does not believe the cuts will have a significant impact on programming saying, "The Government is confident the broadcaster can improve work practices and operate more efficiently in their day-to-day operations.

"Critically, the Government expects those efficiencies can be achieved without cutting their diverse range of programs and services or affecting their editorial independence,"  Mr Turnbull said in a statement.

Mr Scott said the decision to cut the funding for Australia Network was very disappointing, given the ABC was only one year into a 10-year contract with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
In addition to the funding cuts, the ABC will also have to manage the cessation of funding for the online disability website, ABC Ramp Up at the end of this financial year.

Mr Scott said the ABC was aware of the tight fiscal environment and constantly reviewed its strategy and performance to find better work practices and greater efficiencies.

“The ABC is very tightly geared. We have been diligent in reducing backroom costs over recent years to ensure the ABC can deliver better and more varied content to our audiences. That strategy has enabled the ABC to self-fund important new initiatives like iview, ABC News24, triple j Unearthed online and a range of other new digital services.”

Mr Scott said the budget made it clear the Lewis efficiency exercise would impose additional demands on ABC budgets over the next few years. The Department of Communications has been conducting a study into ABC and SBS efficiency with the assistance of ex-Channel 7 CFO and recently appointed CFO of Southern Cross Austereo, Peter Lewis.

“The task ahead will be extremely challenging for ABC management and staff,” Mr Scott said.

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