2024 Budget: a bleak future for the ABC

2024 Budget: a bleak future for the ABC

The ABC is facing a bleak future if there’s no increase to its funding, ABC Friends told the federal government in its pre-budget submission.

JIm Chalmers is due to deliver his second budget in months
Treasurer Jim Chalmers is due to deliver the budget in May

The ABC’s revenue is set to go backwards because the indexation formula falls well short of the actual cost of inflation, at a time when production costs are rising. The ABC also faces a drop in revenue of $21 million in 2026, the final year of the five year funding cycle.  

ABC Friends called on the Albanese Government to use its May budget to increase the ABC’s operational funding by $80 million a year to help restore the ABC and offset increased costs. 

President Cassandra Parkinson said the increase would “not provide any real growth in the ABC budget, but it would help undo the damage of the last decade”.

In 2023, the Albanese Government made some “modest but welcome” improvements to the ABC’s budget, giving the national broadcaster greater certainty and ability to plan. ABC Friends welcomed these improvements but the loss of 120 employees in 2023 underscored just how precarious the ABC’s situation is.

To ensure that ABC funding does not continue to deteriorate in real terms, the indexation formula should be adjusted to meet the full costs of the CPI and reflect the rising costs of producing original Australian content.

The ABC’s Digital-First strategy will significantly alter the ways in which the ABC creates, produces and distributes content but the government shouldn’t expect the ABC to implement its Digital First strategy without additional funding, Ms Parkinson said.

“The Government should use the 2024 Budget to announce a special allocation to fund the digital transition, including any new infrastructure, to ensure that the ABC is able to reach all Australians.”

“Of fundamental importance is the need to guarantee access to the ABC for all Australians, regardless of where they live. At present there are large swathes of this vast land where the ABC isn’t available. That problem must be rectified,” Ms Parkinson said.

Read our full submission here

The 2024-2025 Budget will be handed down by Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, in early May.

The effects of funding cuts

Since 2014, we have seen:

  • The decimation of state-based television current affairs
  • A heavy reduction in the hours of original drama content
  • A heavy reduction in TV arts and science program-making
  • The outsourcing of most program-making: because the ABC does not own copyright it cannot profit from overseas or library sales.
  • Cuts to specialist radio programming and live music recording
  • Massive cuts in sports coverage
  • The closure of some international bureaus, a reduced international presence and a decline in the ABC’s capacity to provide comprehensive international coverage and analysis
  • More extreme climate events have placed considerable pressure on the ABC’s operating grant, leading to reductions in other programs and services

Sophie Arnold
E-news Editor