“The Government’s announced efficiency review of the ABC is an outrageous and dangerous interference in the ABC’s independence”, said Glenys Stradijot, a spokesperson for ABC Friends.
The national conference held in Melbourne last week focused heavily on devising strategies to defend the public broadcaster after what the organisation sees as “the Government’s attacks on ABC News, the announcement of an ABC efficiency review, and doubt cast on Australia Network’s future.”
They also found time to change their name from “Friends of the ABC” to ABC Friends. “ABC Friends’ role will remain unchanged. We will continue to fiercely defend Australia’s independent national public broadcaster when it is needed. And, like all very good friends, we will also continue to give criticism in any instances we believe it is required,” said Glenys Stradijot.
The conference resolved to seek an urgent meeting with Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
Ms Stradijot said, “The ABC is an independent statutory authority. In spirit and at law, Australia’s national public broadcaster is meant to be independent.
“In the present climate, it is difficult not to suspect that the Government’s motives are to curtail the ABC’s activities. This announcement has come in the context of Prime Minister Abbott’s latest attacks on ABC news reporting. The Murdoch media, which helped to elect the present government, views the ABC as a competitor and has been campaigning strenuously for the ABC’s demise.
“This intrusion of the Government, a department and a former commercial TV finance head is happening despite independent surveys regularly revealing that the ABC is one of the most valued institutions in the country.
“If the Government was genuinely interested in the ABC doing its job effectively, it would have released the KPMG report into the adequacy and efficiency of ABC funding which was commissioned by the former Coalition government.
“That report cost the public about half a million dollars and was never released. Leaks from the report provided a damning assessment of the ABC’s inadequate funding.
“It’s ludicrous for the Minister to claim that this intervention into the public broadcaster’s operation and how it spends its money will not influence the ABC’s editorial decisions. Any funding cut that results will mean fewer and poorer quality programs and services. The Australian public simply won’t stand for this,” said Ms Stradijot.