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A message from Professor Ed Davis

ABC Friends NSW & ACT
You may have seen reports recently from senior Government politicians, including the PM and Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, suggesting that ABC funding has not been cut. These assertions are incorrect.

Here is a chart drawn from figures on ABC funding produced by the combined research of the independent and highly regarded Sydney and RMIT Universities.

These figures, revealing a $783 million shortfall in ABC funding 2014-2022, are confirmed recently by other research (e.g. Per Capita) and indeed by the words of ABC Managing Director David Anderson:

‘The ABC will have to absorb cumulative budget cuts that amount to $105.9 million per annum by the time we reach the 2022 financial year.’

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We are calling out to all concerned citizens to phone, write and meet (when possible) your local federal MP and Senator to voice your dismay at the effect these lost funds are having on our public broadcaster: 1,300 staff gone, programming cuts everywhere.

How much will the cuts hurt?
As Media Watch reported on June 29 this year:

  • We’ll have only 42 episodes a year of programmes like Four Corners and Media Watch, instead of up to 45.
  • Australian Story, already down to 35 episodes a year, will be forced to run up to four repeats.
  • Foreign Correspondent will be cut again, now down to 22 episodes. In 2016 it was 30 episodes.
  • Already struggling on reduced budgets, those two programmes will also lose money and travel less.
  • ABC News will shed 74 jobs, while Entertainment & Specialist — responsible for drama, children’s programmes, and shows like GruenThe Weekly and Mad as Hell — will lose another 53 !
  • The successful website ABC Life, a regular target for ABC critics, is another casualty, dumped and re-branded as ABC Local, with the loss of nine journalists who helped bring a new younger audience to the ABC.
  • Fran Kelly’s RN Breakfast will also suffer, losing two senior reporters.
  • ABC’s top-rating radio news bulletin at 7:45am is to be axed, to the dismay and anger of its many fans.
  • Meanwhile, ABC spending with independent producers will be cut by $5 million a year, or around 5 per cent, most of it lost from factual programming, which produces popular shows like War on WasteLove on the Spectrum and Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds.

So we will see less original TV on our screens and no new shows after 9.30pm. That will leave a real gap. Ivan O’Mahoney, from production company In Films which made the ABC’s Revelation series on the Catholic Church, said:

‘It’s extremely concerning these cuts are going to come from factual because it’s one of the few places you can still pitch meaningful long-form programs.’

And don’t let anyone tell you there are ‘No Cuts’, or that ‘ABC funding has been increasing’. At best that is misleading, at worst a blatant untruth.

The ABC costs the Commonwealth half as much as it did in the mid-1990s, managing director David Anderson has said, in a rejection of the prime minister’s claim that ABC funding is increasing every year.

‘In 2018/19, expenditure on the ABC represented around 0.2% of all commonwealth government spending,” Anderson told the National Press Club. “In the mid-1990s the level was around 0.4% – twice as much proportionally as today.’

Anderson added that the ABC did not have more than $1bn to spend each year as has been claimed by the government and right-wing critics. Once fixed transmission costs (which are indexed) were removed, it left $880m of operational funding to spend across all its services after the indexation freeze.

These are the facts. Keep them near to you, pass them on to your friends, family and associates. Challenge your federal representatives with them and don’t take a backward step.

If you are not yet a member of ABC Friends, do consider joining us. Become a member

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Best wishes and stay safe,

Professor Ed Davis AM
President ABC Friends NSW & ACT

ABC Friends NSW & ACT

ABC Friends NSW & ACT · PO Box 1391 North Sydney NSW 2059