Former ABC staff and supporters today roundly condemned the Government’s ongoing cuts to the national broadcaster’s budget, which will soon see another 240 job losses.
“This means ABC staff will have been cut by nearly a quarter since the Coalition was elected,” said ABC Alumni Chair Matt Peacock. “But the Government is pretending there have been no cuts. Just who are they kidding?”
During the recent bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic, ABC services have surged in importance and popularity, with expanded emergency, education, health and iview services despite a diminished budget.
But the ABC’s operational budget has been cut by an average of more than $100 million each year since Tony Abbot’s promise in 2013 of “no cuts.”
The latest round of job cuts will mean a further thinning in the quality of service that hardworking ABC staff can deliver.
It may also force a further dilution in State-based news services, as well as reduced radio News bulletins.
“This is death by a thousand cuts, by a Government dancing to Rupert Murdoch’s tune,” said Mr Peacock. “The public wants better. A recent Roy Morgan poll found more than three-quarters of Australians oppose further cuts, with nearly half urging increased funding.”
ABC Alumni expressed its particular concern for the staff who’ll be made jobless, as well as those left behind.
“Many have worked around the clock during these challenging times, unpaid, in some cases saving lives – while the Prime Minister was holidaying in Hawaii,” said Mr Peacock. “And those still with jobs will be desperately trying to plug the gaps in an organisation that’s bleeding.”
“For around 11 cents a day, the ABC is one of the lowest-cost, most efficient public broadcasters in the world,” he said. “Compare the value for money: a subscription to a national newspaper would cost around $900 a year, giving you a daily newspaper and online access. The ABC provides 24 hours digital online, podcasts, iview, four TV networks, five terrestrial radio networks fed from hundreds of transmitters as well as five digital radio stations, international radio, TV and online – all provided with original Australian content by staff based throughout the country and the world – for less than one-twentieth of that per capita!”
All Australians should be deeply concerned about the growing threat to the national broadcaster, at a time when democratic institutions around the world are being challenged.
Media release by ABC Alumni - 10 June 2020