News Archive 2020

News Archive 2020

Displaying media stories related to the ABC.

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ABC chair Ita Buttrose accuses government of 'political interference' in draft letter to Paul Fletcher
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - December 14, 2020

The ABC chair, Ita Buttrose, has accused the government of a pattern of behaviour which “smacks of political interference” in a robust defence of the public broadcaster’s independence, according to a draft of a letter responding to a barrage of Coalition complaints about the Four Corners program Inside the Canberra Bubble.

In the program broadcast last month, the journalists Louise Milligan and Lucy Carter investigated complaints about attorney general Christian Porter, including an alleged history of sexist and inappropriate behaviour towards women, and an affair the acting immigration minister, Alan Tudge, had with a female adviser in 2017.

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Fletcher bungles ABC hit job and leaves the government stuck
Bernard Keane - Crikey - December 10, 2020

If it was unclear before that Communications Minister Paul Fletcher is badly out of his depth, his mishandling of the government’s reprisals against the ABC over Four Corners‘ revelation of the antics of Alan Tudge and Christian Porter has confirmed it.

It’s debatable whether the government should even have looked to punch back against the ABC for the program. The revelations — entirely in the public interest — of the behaviour of two senior ministers were already yesterday’s news. In the “permanent present” of the press gallery, where no one remembers longer than five minutes ago and any story broken by another outlet is ignored until it can’t be, the news cycle had moved on.

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Communications Minister Paul Fletcher threatens to sack Ita Buttrose
Quentin Dempster - The New Daily - December 8, 2020

The ABC board has until December 15 to respond to a formal letter from Communications Minister Paul Fletcher seeking answers to his questions about the board’s compliance with the ABC Act.

Under the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 the board has a statutory duty to ensure that the gathering and presentation of news and information is accurate and impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism.

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The ABC of government sniping: it pays to broadcast it publicly
Jacqueline Maley - SMH - December 5, 2020

After the ABC’s Four Corners aired its controversial “Inside the Canberra Bubble” episode, promising to expose the “highly sexualised” atmosphere of Parliament House, the government took action. Not against the ministers named in the program, and not to clean up the sexist parliamentary culture it alleged.

The government, via Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, wrote a strongly worded letter to ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose, asking detailed questions about the show’s accuracy and balance.

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'Everybody loses': Ex-ABC editorial director says government attacks undermine it
Zoe Samios & Lisa Visentin - SMH - December 4, 2020

ABC's former editorial director Alan Sunderland has attacked the federal government for publishing a letter sent to chair Ita Buttrose about a controversial Four Corners episode, describing it as a deliberate attempt to undermine the national broadcaster and cast public doubt on its coverage.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has publicly demanded the ABC board explain how an episode titled "Inside the Canberra Bubble" was in the public interest, after it exposed alleged affairs and inappropriate behaviour among ministers and staffers.

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Actually, government MPs, there are such things as silly questions
Jenna Price - The Canberra Times - December 4, 2020

I do not know for sure if Christian Porter is a pants man. I do know that he was pashing a young woman in broad barlight, because I trust the ABC's battleship current affairs program Four Corners. I also know that when Four Corners' public investigators exposed Porter, they had six separate eyewitnesses to this event, including people sneezingly senior.

This is all truly old news. What's brought this into the spotlight again is Communications Minister Paul Fletcher's clammy 15 questions to Ita Buttrose, the chair of the ABC's board, in which he displays a truly shocking ignorance of what journalism is about. They were followed up by more absurd questions from Liberal senator Sarah Henderson. The pair illustrate the ignorance that the modern Liberal Party has of ethical journalism. These questions were designed to smear some of the best journalists in the country. And on top of that, Fletcher then dropped into an ABC board meeting this week. Where's the eyeroll emoji when you need it?

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Four Corners complaint glosses over issue at heart of program
Andy Marks - SMH - December 2, 2020

An old grudge, legend has it, saw Elvis put a bullet through his television set when crooner Robert Goulet graced his screen. The King did not approve. Not long after, our own televisual monarch, Graham Kennedy, had his infamous crow call stymied by censors unimpressed by its risque fidelity. Television folklore is shaped by these moments that both peaked and defined public interest in the medium.

The question of what is and isn’t in the public interest is not easily answered. Politicians are traditionally, almost conditionally, resistant to answering it. Through various political controversies it has broadly been a matter for the public to decide. Not so, apparently, for some in public office who are concerned at the recent Four Corners portrayal of alleged affairs and inappropriate behaviour between ministers and staffers. Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, has asked the ABC for an explanation.

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ABC accuses Morrison government of using News Corp to attack its journalism
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - December 2, 2020

The ABC has accused the Morrison government of using News Corp to attack its journalism after the Australian was briefed about a series of government questions for the broadcaster before the ABC received them.

On the front page of the Australian on Wednesday, investigations editor Sharri Markson reported that the ABC “is facing questions from the Morrison government” over the use of private investigators for its Four Corners report on inappropriate behaviour by ministers Alan Tudge and Christian Porter.

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Morrison government asks ABC to please explain controversial Four Corners episode
Lisa Visentin & Zoe Samios - SMH - December 1, 2020

The ABC is preparing to fire back at Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher after he asked board chair Ita Buttrose to explain how a recent Four Corners episode exposing alleged affairs and inappropriate behaviour between ministers and staffers was in the public interest.

In a letter to Ms Buttrose, Mr Fletcher posed 15 questions to the ABC board requesting an explanation within 14 days as to how the episode complied with the ABC's code of practice and its statutory obligations to provide accurate and impartial journalism.

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ABC opposes quotas as Coalition plans to force Netflix to make more Australian content

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - November 27, 2020

The ABC says imposing programming quotas could undermine its independence as the government proposes sweeping changes to media laws that would force Netflix to make more Australian content.

Meanwhile, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, is set to table another major media change, the mandatory news code legislation, in the last sitting of parliament.

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Coalition backbench dissent brewing over ABC's inclusion in media code

Lisa Visentin & Zoe Samios - SMH - November 25, 2020

The ABC and SBS would receive compensation under a revision to the media bargaining code the Morrison government is considering, risking dissent among backbenchers to assist the legislation's passage through Parliament.

Some government backbenchers are opposed to the public broadcasters, and the ABC in particular, receiving compensation under the law to force Google and Facebook to pay media companies for using their news content, but their inclusion would increase the chances of the government gaining the support of the crossbench.

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'ABC the embodiment of Australia': ABC chair Ita Buttrose defends broadcaster as essential to democracy
Rob Harris - The Age - November 23, 2020

ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose has warned against growing attempts of intimidation towards public broadcasters around the world, saying countries that have popular, well-funded public sector media encounter less extremism and corruption and have greater press freedom.

Ms Buttrose told the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation that national broadcasters around the world face similar lines of criticism and assaults on their existence by commercial enterprises that claim public broadcasting services are no longer necessary.

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Senate media diversity inquiry may be ineffective against Murdoch empire
Martin Hirst - Independent Australia - November 23, 2020

WE’RE ABOUT TO GET yet another high-level inquiry into media ownership and bias in Australia, but don’t expect it to change the news landscape much, if at all.

There’s no doubt the Kevin Rudd petition calling for a royal commission into the power of News Corp was highly successful, despite efforts by the Murdoch media to discredit it through a series of misleading stories and attacks on Rudd’s credibility.

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How do you cure a cancer like Rupert Murdoch?
Mike Seccombe - The Saturday Paper - November 14 - 20, 2020

Pressure is mounting against News Corp, led by former prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd. They say democracy is damaged by the company’s ‘propaganda’ and ‘vendettas’.

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Foxtel given blank sheet for spending govt’s $10m handout
Daniel Ziffer - The New Daily - November 13, 2020

Foxtel has been given a blank sheet for choosing how to spend a $10 million federal government grant and does not need to submit anything about it until 2021, documents reveal.

The documents, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, show the federal Communications Department gave Foxtel free rein to allocate millions of dollars of taxpayer money granted to broadcast under-represented sports.

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'Siege mentality' as ABC's Four Corners bursts Canberra bubble
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - November 13, 2020

ABC journalist Louise Milligan has likened the “siege mentality” of the Morrison government over allegations of inappropriate ministerial conduct to that of the Catholic church when confronted with allegations of child abuse.

“It was fascinating in the lead-up to the story how the forces corralled to try and shut it down,” the Four Corners reporter told colleague Annabel Crabb at the virtual launch of her book, Witness, on Thursday night.

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Media moguls versus elites
Marian Sawer - Pearls & Irritations - November 12, 2020

After the election of John Howard in 1996 and the rise of Pauline Hanson, the Murdoch mastheads changed the meaning of elites in this country. In an intensive research exercise, Murray Goot and Sean Scalmer showed how Murdoch newspapers redefined elites as university-educated inner city dwellers who were out of touch with and denigrated the values of ordinary Australians. Their university education fitted these elites for public sector employment and gave them a vested interest in expanding the welfare state.

Elites were no longer the ‘money power’ as in older forms of populism. In the older version elites were seen as bankers, corrupt politicians and big businessmen – ‘Mr Fat’. In the new version, elites were not necessarily rich or powerful but had cultural capital, including values different from those of ordinary people.

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Former PMs to give evidence at Senate inquiry into media diversity
The New Daily - November 12, 2020

A new Senate inquiry that is set to examine Australia’s media sector will hear evidence of the impact of media concentration on democracy from former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull.

The inquiry, which will report by the end of March 2021, followed the tabling of a petition this week backed by half a million Australians calling for a royal commission into Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

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What’s in the ‘public interest’? Why the ABC is right to cover allegations of inappropriate ministerial conduct
Alexandra Wake - The Conversation - November 11, 2020

Immediately after ABC’s Four Corners aired allegations about the conduct of government ministers Alan Tudge and Christian Porter, questions were raised about whether the report was in the “public interest”.

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Senate to investigate media bias and ownership after Kevin Rudd petition
Josh Butler - The New Daily - November 11, 2020

The federal Senate will conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into news media ownership, bias, and its “effect on democracy”, just days after former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s petition on the topic was presented to Parliament.

A motion from the Greens, moved by Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, was supported by Labor and some crossbench members on Wednesday afternoon.

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‘One side of politics’: Morrison paints ABC affair reports as bias, dodging questions about investigations
Matthew Elmas - The Mandarin - November 10, 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has doubled-down on criticism of the ABC after it ran an expose into consensual affairs among senior ministers, deriding journalists for ‘only focusing on one side of politics’ in an airing of claims about a misogynistic culture within senior ranks of the Parliamentary Liberal Party.

Morrison claimed he was ‘not familiar’ with emails sent by ministerial colleagues to ABC executives questioning the public interest value of the Four Corners program before it went to air, in what has become the latest inflection point in the debate about about politicisation of the national broadcaster.

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Michael Pascoe: Yet again, it’s a matter of trust with Canberra scandal
Michael Pascoe - The New Daily - November 10, 2020

Four Corners’ “Canberra Bubble” story was quite a story, but it was also the start of stories. Hares have been set running.

The obvious is that two senior “family values” ministers are in the gun.

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Christian Porter threatens legal action and accuses Four Corners of ‘defamatory’ claims
Josh Butler - The New Daily - November 10, 2020

Attorney-General Christian Porter is considering legal action against the ABC after slamming as “defamatory” a Four Corners story that alleged he had a relationship with a junior political staffer.

Federal ministers Mr Porter and Alan Tudge are at the centre of the latest allegations of misconduct to rock Canberra, following an explosive report claiming they engaged in affairs with younger female staff.

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Coalition staffers asked ABC boss if Four Corners episode was in the public interest
Lisa Visentin - SMH - November 9, 2020

Federal ministerial staffers contacted the highest levels of the ABC to ask whether a Four Corners episode about an alleged toxic culture in Coalition government offices was in the public interest.

ABC managing director David Anderson said he had received about "half a dozen" emails from staff of government ministers whose offices had been approached by Four Corners for comment about the program due to air on Monday night.

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‘Extraordinary’ Senate grilling of ABC boss before Four Corners bombshell
Josh Butler - The New Daily - November 9, 2020

The ABC’s managing director has been subjected to an “extraordinary” grilling by Coalition senators before the airing of an explosive TV report into alleged misconduct in Parliament, with one claiming it was a “sting” against the government.

David Anderson faced a barrage of questioning from senators on Monday, revealing he had been contacted by staff of senior government ministers with concerns over the impartiality of the imminent Four Corners report, and whether it was in the public interest.

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Why the ABC is too important to lose
Kelly Bartholomeusz - Independent Australia - November 6, 2020

What if there was no ABC? This question was posed to bushfire survivors during independent research into the 2019-20 summer fire response. “It would be a strategic nightmare — we would lack the most important information to help us in a time of need,” said a survivor from Narooma. This question takes on an ominous significance as the Coalition Government makes further funding cuts to the ABC, this year’s Federal Budget revealing the latest in over two decades of cuts that reached crisis point under Tony Abbott in 2014.

The last ten months have been a sobering reminder of the role played by the ABC during times of crisis. During the peak of the 2019-20 bushfires alone, the ABC undertook emergency broadcasting for over 200 emergency events across Australia, which cost an extra $3 million to the broadcaster’s expenses at the same time it was being forced to absorb an annual budget cut of $105.9 million.

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'Elitist' or essential? What regional Queensland really thinks of the ABC
Michael Koziol - SMH - October 31, 2020

If there is such a thing as the inner city elite, its counterpoint might be found in Clermont, Queensland.

A mining town on the Gregory Highway, about 300 kilometres south-west of Mackay, Clermont had a brief moment in the national media spotlight just before the 2019 federal election when Stop Adani protesters from down south clashed with locals whose jobs depend on the coal industry.

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The ABC must be relevant to all – but that doesn't mean telling people what they want to hear
Jonathan Holmes - The Guardian - October 28, 2020

If there’s one phrase likely to raise the hackles of ABC journalists, it is “inner-city leftwing elites”. They hear it all the time from their most dogged denigrators. According to the Chris Kennys and Andrew Bolts in the Murdoch press, and the Eric Abetzes and Barnaby Joyces in the Coalition ranks, ABC journos are themselves members of the inner-city elite, and share its preoccupations and biases on a host of topics – in favour of action on climate change, in favour of same-sex marriage, against tough policies to deter boat people, and so on.

The very word “elite”, used as a pejorative, has become a cliche of the culture wars in Australia, as in the US.

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ABC flagship current affair programs didn't cover climate change adequately, report finds
Amanda Meade - The Guardian- October 28, 2020

The ABC’s 7.30 and AM programs did not cover climate change adequately and related reports on drought, bushfire, fossil fuel extraction, and energy policy ignored climate change as a causative factor, a confidential report for the Australian Conservation Foundation has found.

The ACF commissioned the former Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes to study the programs’ output for 15 months, between 1 October 2017 and 31 December 2018, to find out if criticism of the ABC’s coverage was valid and if he could detect a deliberate avoidance of the issues due to political pressure.

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A brief history of the Murdoch clan: A tale of two Keiths
David Donovan - Independent Australia - October 27, 2020

The impact of the Murdochs on Australian politics is no new thing. It is in their blood and seemingly regarded as their birthright. This power to manipulate the Australian people through the information they are allowed to receive has, in fact, spanned three generations.

Indeed, the father of the current Murdoch emperor, Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch (Keith Snr), was, during World War II, Australia’s propaganda supremo. Appointed as Director-General of Information in June 1940, in July he ordered all news media to publish Government statements as and when necessary, a move that was compared to Nazi propaganda chief Goebbels' approach. He was sacked soon after, spending the rest of the war encouraging patriotic unity while campaigning against Australia's iconic Labor Prime Minister John Curtin.

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Don't conscript your ABC to the culture wars
Alan Sunderland - SMH - October 27, 2020

The ABC, I hear, has surrendered to government pressure, given up its independence and impartiality, and committed itself to delivering anti-climate change, anti-intellectual, right-wing populist propaganda instead of news.

Or so it would appear to some people, based on four words allegedly uttered by ABC news director Gaven Morris during an hour-long staff briefing last week. (“ABC News boss warns staff against focus on ‘inner city left-wing elites’”, SMH, October 25)

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Does the ABC's 'inner city left-wing elite' exist?
Karl Quinn - SMH - October 26, 2020

When ABC director of news Gaven Morris warned his staff against focusing on "inner city left-wing elites" last week he could easily have been citing from the Coalition playbook.

The phrase reflects the perception of a city/country divide and a gulf between inner city and outer suburban values, and marginalises "progressive" issues as the sole preserve of a small coterie of ivory-tower inhabitants out of touch with the concerns of "real" Australians.

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Most Australians love the ABC and only tolerate politicians
Jacqueline Maley - SMH - October 26, 2020

As an anthropological group, they're overexposed.

The inner city left-wing elites, in their various iterations around the world, are having an extended post-Brexit, Trumpian and Morrisonian moment that has segued from Manhattan to Carlton, from Dalston to Darlinghurst.

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ABC news boss warns staff against focus on 'inner city left-wing elites'
Michael Koziol - SMH - October 25, 2020

ABC news boss Gaven Morris told staff they were too focused on the interests of "inner city left-wing elites" and linked his concerns about editorial coverage to the national broadcaster's ongoing funding from taxpayers.

In remarks made during staff briefings last week Mr Morris warned it would not bode well for the ABC's funding "if we're seen to be representing inner city elite interests", according to three people who were present.

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Murdoch’s power: how it works and how it debases Australia
Eric Beecher - Crikey - October 23, 2020

When Kevin Rudd launched his parliamentary petition for a royal commission into the power of News Corporation in Australia, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese declined to provide Labor’s support.

“It’s a bit like complaining about the referee in a footy game,” he said. “It might make you feel OK [but] it doesn’t change the outcome or change the result.”

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ABC, SBS television signals in regional Australia at risk over transmission towers
Katie Burgess - The Canberra Times - October 22, 2020

The ABC and SBS will be forced to find an extra $1.2 million a year to keep broadcasting to regional Australians, after the company that has been maintaining the transmission towers said it could no longer afford to do so without government assistance.

ABC managing director Dave Anderson told Senate estimates on Wednesday night the public broadcasters had been told they'd need to find an extra $600,000 per year each to maintain transmission towers in 77 locations across Australia.

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Calls for an ABC-run social network to replace Facebook and Google are misguided. With what money?
Fiona R Martin - The Conversation - October 21, 2020

If Facebook prevented Australian news from being shared on its platform, could the ABC start its own social media service to compensate? While this proposal from the Australia Institute is a worthy one, it’s an impossible ask in the current political climate.

The suggestion is one pillar of the think tank’s new Tech-xit report.

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The Coalition has maintained its holy war against the ABC
Jon Faine - SMH - October 20, 2020

Astonishingly, Australia has only one serious national TV current affairs show each night. In the past month, after significant internal turmoil, there have been huge changes. The ABC would rather you did not know – my former employer asks everyone else to be open and accountable but is not so flash at telling its own story.

I explain all this out of affection for and loyalty to the ABC. It is one year since I left after 30 years broadcasting. My analysis is designed to be supportive and helpful, not carping, nor negative. It is self-evident that the ABC is neither perfect nor beyond improvement. But sadly even mild critique is leapt upon by self-interested competitors and ideologues who relish every opportunity to undermine a national treasure.

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If Facebook and Google limit services in Australia, could the ABC run a social network?
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - October 19, 2020

A publicly funded social network run by the ABC has been proposed as one possible response if Facebook and Google limit services in Australia when the mandatory news code becomes law this year.

Facebook has warned it will block Australians from sharing news if the landmark plan to make digital platforms pay for news content becomes law.

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Murdoch's sway on politics warrants royal commission
Kevin Rudd - SMH - October 19, 2020

Living in Australia, many now habitually think our national media landscape is normal. It isn’t. No other Western democracy has the level of print media monopoly that Rupert Murdoch has secured for himself in Australia.

A single American billionaire has now seized control of almost 70 per cent of daily newspaper circulation. In my state of Queensland, which determines most federal elections, this monopoly is almost 100 per cent with every newspaper from Cairns to Coolangatta and Australia’s only commercial 24-hour 'news' channel.

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Police won't charge ABC journalist over 'Afghan Files' stories
Anthony Galloway - SMH - October 15, 2020

Police will not lay charges against an ABC journalist over stories revealing allegations of potential war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan, after prosecutors found it would not be in the public interest.

The Australian Federal Police said it had finalised its investigation into ABC journalist Dan Oakes and he would not be prosecuted.

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Australia: Public media funding and press freedom challenges continue
Public Media Alliance - October 13, 2020

Last week’s Federal Budget revealed the upcoming funding allocation for Australia’s public broadcasters. While SBS welcomed aspects of the decision, there was no change to ABC’s budget, which concludes at the end of 2021-22.

Head of Corporate Communications at SBS, Paul de Leon, responded by saying that SBS was particularly grateful for the additional funding that would go towards supporting language content.

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Paper chase: why Kevin Rudd’s call for a royal commission into News Corp may lead nowhere
Denis Muller - The Conversation - October 13, 2020

Kevin Rudd’s petition to parliament for a royal commission into the dominance of the Murdoch media in Australia is entitled to be seen as more than an embittered ex-politician’s desire for revenge.

The fact is that in the three mature English-speaking democracies where Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has a dominant presence – the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia – politics are deeply polarised and conducted with a toxicity and dishonesty that is harmful to the public good.

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Rural Australia to lose ABC and SBS TV broadcasts after company stops maintaining transmission sites
Albert McKnight - The Land - October 10, 2020

Regional audiences across Australia may soon no longer be able to watch ABC and SBS on their television sets.

This is because the company RBA Holdings Pty Ltd (RBAH) that has been caring for, at its own expense, necessary equipment for their transmission says it can no longer afford the maintenance.

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'Perplexed' SBS boss rejected offer to move in with ABC
Zoe Samios - SMH - October 5, 2020

SBS managing director James Taylor rejected an offer from his counterpart at the ABC, David Anderson, to share offices and explore other merged services such as travel in a terse email exchange about how the two government-funded broadcasters could save money.

The ABC and SBS have their own budgets and operate as separate organisations but are under pressure to consider sharing back-office and support services to reduce costs. For years there have been suggestions the ABC should subsume SBS to save money. SBS has long resisted any full-scale merger with the ABC.

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ABC staff vote against pay rise freeze despite government push
Zoe Samios & Nick Bonhady - SMH - September 30, 2020

ABC employees have voted against deferring their pay increases this year despite multiple requests from Communications Minister Paul Fletcher to put them on pause.

Mr Fletcher wrote to the ABC in May asking employees to pause a 2 per cent pay rise that will be enforced on October 1 as part of a new three year enterprise agreement.

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The Foreign Interference law is more a political stunt. But what about Rupert Murdoch’s foreign interference?
Ian Cunliffe - Pearls and Irritations - September 24, 2020

The campaign is not fully transparent. Accordingly, it satisfies the last requirement to make out the crime of Foreign Interference: that is satisfied if “any part of the conduct is covert or involves deception”; or if the accused “fails to disclose to the target” that the person is “acting on behalf of, or in collaboration with, a foreign principal”. The Foreign Interference law is more a political stunt than a piece of sober legislation. Its language is designed to resonate with shock-jocks rather than with judges. The judges will be surprised to see so many undefined terms and novel expressions in a law which threatens imprisonment for 20 years.

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Is fast-tracking funds to Foxtel the best way to support the media during COVID?
Johan Lidberg - The Conversation - September 23, 2020

According to an ABC report, government funds were fast-tracked to Foxtel during the coronavirus pandemic.

This news will raise eyebrows, as the media — like so many industries — tries to survive the pain and disruption brought by COVID-19.

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ABC and SBS may be included in ACCC code requiring Google and Facebook to pay for news
Daniel Hurst - The Guardian - September 23, 2020

The communications minister has left the door open to including the ABC and SBS in the new code forcing Google and Facebook to pay for the value they receive from distributing Australian journalism.

Paul Fletcher also acknowledged on Wednesday that the competition regulator had received “quite a number of submissions” about the suitability of the proposed mechanism to resolve disputes between the big digital platforms and Australian media organisations.

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Foxtel benefited from fast-tracked Federal Government funds, FOI reveals
Daniel Ziffer - ABC - September 23, 2020

After a Federal Government support package snubbed Foxtel and rewarded some of its rivals, Communications Department staff helped fast-track $17.5 million in taxpayer funds for the company, expediting normal Federal Cabinet processes for approval.

Hundreds of pages of documents from the offices of the Prime Minister, Communications Minister and Foxtel — including personal emails, letters and cabinet submissions obtained through the Freedom of Information (FOI) process — reveal the speed with which the broadcaster was awarded a $10 million extension to an existing $30 million contract.

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Funding public interest journalism requires creative solutions. A tax rebate for news media could work
Allan Fels - The Conversation - September 21, 2020

It has been a long time since an Australian government turned its mind to policy concerning the news media — other than the removal of outdated ownership regulations.

Now, thanks to the government’s intention to make Google and Facebook pay a negotiated price to news media organisations for using their content, policies to safeguard the health of the news media are front of mind.

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Les Miserables – Killing the ABC in a time of national emergency
Quentin Dempster - Pearls and Irritations - September 16, 2020

Eighty-six have gone or are going from newsrooms and current affairs programs in the latest round of budget cuts. They are among up to 250 staff made redundant as part of an ABC Board five-year restructure said to continue the ABC’s transformation to a digital content creator and distributor.

Many of the departed are in late career and are taking personal financial advantage of industry-standard redundancy packages based on years of service plus accumulated long service leave. But many also are in early or mid-career and, given the vaporisation of media jobs through both digital disruption and the Covid-19 pandemic, inevitably, will be lost to journalism and content creation forever.

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Ita Buttrose asks ABC staff to vote on six-month wage freeze
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - September 11, 2020

The ABC chair, Ita Buttrose, has asked the national broadcaster’s staff to vote on a six-month wage freeze three months after the government told the ABC it should fall in line with other taxpayer-funded agencies during the Covid-19 crisis.

Under the ABC Act, the board has to consider requests from government, but equally management cannot direct staff to accept a pay freeze without varying its enterprise agreement.

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Inside the five-year plan: tick the box called ‘trust’ and hope that passes as public interest journalism
Bernard Keane - Crikey- September 10, 2020

If you’re hoping that the ABC’s recent five year plan provides some sort of guidance on how it will address the challenges of budget cuts while it is expected to provide more services as commercial media fails, and simultaneously dealing with the universal media challenge of shifting online, you may be just a little disappointed.

The document, released in June by managing director David Anderson but accompanied only by some pro forma words from chair Ita Buttrose, provides little in the way of intelligible structure for a media organisation, composed as it is of a “Purpose”, a “Vision”, some “Pillars” and “Priorities”, then “Key Initiatives”.

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Ita and the ABC: out with the old and in with the new
David Hardaker - Crikey - September 8, 2020

As dozens more journalists and producers walked out the door last week , part of an exodus of 250 staff, the ABC was quietly hiring a fresh pool of talent.

The broadcaster has ads out for a dozen jobs for back-end developers, front-end developers, engineers, software developers and other digital experts as it thrusts into an IT-led future.

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Your ABC is turning into their ABC
Allan Patience - Pearls & Irritations - September 1, 2020

The Morrison government’s persistent dumbing down of the public broadcaster is evidence of the deep-seated anti-intellectualism and cultural philistinism at its walnut-like heart. What was once thought of as our ABC, with an enviable history of respected news reporting, cultural sophistication and information sharing, is turning into their ABC – a pale version of the glibbest offerings in the overly-commercialised media. With a limited autodidact as board chair, and a pusillanimous senior management team, things are unlikely to get better while this government remains in power.

Despite its current travails, historically the ABC is one of the triumphs of Australian public policy. As the late Ken Inglis charted in his two volumes on the history of the institution, over many decades the broadcaster has educated, informed, entertained, inspired, comforted and goaded generations of Australians. It has become the measure of the best kinds of investigative journalism across the country. It has encouraged creative and critical thinking, celebrated and enlivened the arts, while nurturing Australia’s evolving culture more widely than any other public or private organisations, including our museums, art galleries, theatres, and educational institutions.

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Bushfire royal commission: ABC should be embedded in emergency centres during disasters
Calla Wahlquist - The Guardian - August 31, 2020

The bushfire royal commission says a manager from the ABC should be stationed in the emergency management headquarters of every state and territory during a national disaster to ensure the “timely delivery of critical information to the public”.

The suggestion was made in the inquiry’s interim report, released on Monday, which also highlighted inconsistencies and deficiencies in fire warning systems and state-funded fire apps.

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ABC has for too long been unwilling to push back against interference – at its journalists’ expense
Denis Muller - Mumbrella - August 27, 2020

For those who watch the affairs of the ABC through the eyes of a critical friend, the removal of Emma Alberici, made public on August 21, is deeply disturbing.

It is the climax to a destructive series of events that began more than two years ago and once again draws attention to two serious weaknesses in the ABC’s management arrangements.

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'Distressed' ABC presenter Emma Alberici quits TV over censorship claims
Michael Lallo - SMH - August 21, 2020

The protracted and painful split between the ABC and its chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici is complete – with a former prime minister and an ex-television current affairs boss weighing in for the final chapter of the saga.

Ms Alberici, who has been at loggerheads with management at the national broadcaster for more than two years, has vowed she will never host a TV program again after the dispute was formally settled on Thursday.

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$10 million Foxtel handout came from COVID recovery funds
Josh Butler - The New Daily - August 6, 2020

A controversial $10 million given to Foxtel to broadcast women’s and under-represented sports has been revealed as being funded under a federal coronavirus response package, a decision derided as a “mockery”.

Labor has slammed the government for providing “absolutely no accountability” around the decision to award the funding.

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A unitary theory of cuts
Richard Cooke - The Monthly - August, 2020

“Who is Scott Morrison? And why is he prime minister?”, The Sydney Morning Herald asked in March 2019, as the member for Cook made his surprise ascendancy to the Lodge. After more than a year in office, we have only half-answers to these questions. Morrison’s tenure has been so buffeted by extreme and unusual events – first catastrophic fires, then a worldwide pandemic – that there has scarcely been time for clichés to form around him. Leftish critics still lean heavily on his Pentecostalism, but the real Morrison has been hidden by acts of God.

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Our neighbour Sam
Brian Matthews - Eureka Street - August 4, 2020

Our neighbor Sam is in his mid-seventies. He takes things quietly, enjoys a chat where our two gardens converge at a corner of the lambing paddock that unfolds beyond our shared wire fence and, regularly in summer, Sam is partial to a few cooling drinks. He is diabetic so he chooses his tipple very carefully and in line with such professional medical advice as he’s prepared to follow — which is not all of it. Still, he is very active, regularly mows his own considerable expanse of lawn, keeps an attractive, Australian garden and maintains a knowledgeable survey of the multitudinous bird life in our piece of the valley.

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ABC, SBS exclusion from tech giants' payments a 'government' decision
Zoe Samios & Fergus Hunter - SMH - August 3, 2020

Competition tsar Rod Sims has said he did not provide the Morrison government with advice on whether public broadcasters, ABC and SBS, should be remunerated by Google and Facebook because the matter was too complicated.

Mr Sims had previously expressed an intention to include ABC and SBS in the revenue-sharing part of a code of conduct, which will try to force Google and Facebook to compensate publishers for the use of news content. But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) appeared to have backflipped when it released the draft version of the code on Friday. Mr Sims indicated that the final decision was made by government.

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‘So much for a level playing field’: Google, Facebook to pay for news, but not from ABC, SBS
Quentin Dempster - The New Daily - August 1, 2020

All Australian news media entities, with the exception of the ABC and SBS, are to be given the power to force global tech giants Google and Facebook to pay for their use of local news content.

A draft Bill to amend the Competition and Consumer Act released on Friday by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher will be introduced to federal parliament after final stakeholder and public consultation at the end of August.

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Efficiency, change and pain as ABC staff prepare to walk out the door
radioinfo - July 30, 2020

The ABC has been moving ahead with its redundancy process, with the final change proposals sent to staff on 21 July.

With the expressions of interest in redundancy process now complete, and positions identified for redundancy, the national broadcaster is currently consulting on the proposals with employees and their representatives. 

The ABC has been moving ahead with its redundancy process, with the final change proposals sent to staff on 21 July. 

With the expressions of interest in redundancy process now complete, and positions identified for redundancy, the national broadcaster is currently consulting on the proposals with employees and their representatives.

People are expected to be walking out the door in the next



Read more at: https://radioinfo.com.au/news/efficiency-change-and-pain-abc-staff-prepare-walk-out-door © Radioinfo.com.au

The ABC has been moving ahead with its redundancy process, with the final change proposals sent to staff on 21 July. 

With the expressions of interest in redundancy process now complete, and positions identified for redundancy, the national broadcaster is currently consulting on the proposals with employees and their representatives.



Read more at: https://radioinfo.com.au/news/efficiency-change-and-pain-abc-staff-prepare-walk-out-door © Radioinfo.com.au

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Fixing TV content rules is one step to help troubled industry
Debi Enker - The Age - July 29, 2020

In these strange pandemic days, crippled businesses around the country have been clamouring for government assistance. Among them is the film and TV industry, which has been severely affected with numerous productions either shut down indefinitely or cancelled. Their casts and crews, many of whom are self-employed, have been out of work and ineligible for benefits.

In recent weeks, the federal government has responded to pleas for support by pledging $400 million to attract big-budget international film productions to Australia. And rather than offering additional support to our national broadcaster, the ABC, it’s donated $10 million to Foxtel to help it showcase women’s, niche and under-represented sports. In 2018, Foxtel was gifted $30 million as part of the same initiative.

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If wars of the future are about influence, Australia needs to be better armed
Malcolm Long - The Age - July 28, 2020

Australia’s disappearing media presence in the Asia-Pacific makes us increasingly vulnerable. As we wrestle with our deteriorating relations with China and seek to strengthen our engagement with other countries, effective international communications by Australia have gone missing in action.

Since 2013, following substantial government funding cuts, the ABC has reduced its spending on Radio Australia and its international television and online services by more than two-thirds, to about $11 million a year. At the same time, China is investing billions in new global communications initiatives. Russia, Japan, Germany, France and the BBC each spend hundreds of millions annually.

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Minister, ABC on perfectly reasonable terms, thanks
Samantha Hutchinson & Stephen Brook - SMH - July 26, 2020

ABC chair Ita Buttrose recently made the observation that Millennials are a bit needy for hugs. One person who isn’t on the receiving end of too many of those at the moment is Communications Minister Paul Fletcher.

Some thought with culture wars off the agenda, an obvious favourite of Scott Morrison at the head of the ABC and a technocrat former Optus executive heading up the department, things would improve between Aunty and government after the 2018 horror show. But the relationship is not great.

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$10 million for Fox Sports slammed as ‘handout to Murdoch mates’
Josh Butler - The New Daily - July 22, 2020

Foxtel will get $10 million to support the broadcast of women’s sports and “niche” competitions, in a move slammed as “the height of arrogance”.

Communications minister Paul Fletcher and sports minister Richard Colbeck announced on Wednesday that the federal government had allocated the sum to Fox Sports, ” to continue its support of coverage of women’s, niche and other under-represented sports”.

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Paul Fletcher says ABC funding is rising each year. Is he correct?
RMIT ABC Fact Check - ABC News - July 16, 2020

After the ABC announced the loss of 250 jobs in its five year plan, the state of its funding was once again thrust into the national debate.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher dismissed allegations of cuts to the budget of the national broadcaster in a press conference with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

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The ABC of Efficiency
Alan Sunderland - alansunderland.com - July, 2020

While it’s never a surprise when the Chairman of the Institute of Public Affairs attacks the ABC (What the minister should have told the ABC bleaters, Weekend Australian, 4/4/20), what really surprised me was how different Janet Albrechtsen’s experience of the ABC was when compared with my own.

After all, our time at the public broadcaster overlapped by several years – she as a respected board member and me as a senior manager – and yet the deep and far-reaching efficiencies that I witnessed (and in some cases helped drive) seemed to have passed without her notice. To be fair, some of them happened after she left.

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ABC's Four Corners marks overdue milestone with Black Lives Matter episode
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - July 13, 2020

Next month marks 59 years since Four Corners was first broadcast on the ABC but Monday night marks a significant, if overdue, milestone.

Guest reporter Stan Grant, who examines what the Black Lives Matter movement means to Indigenous Australians, looks straight into the camera and says: “Four Corners has been on air for longer than I’ve been alive and I’m the first Indigenous person ever to have reported for it.”

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ABC staff demand Ita Buttrose and David Anderson ensure diversity not 'just a cliche'
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - July 9, 2020

ABC staff have written to Ita Buttrose and David Anderson calling on them to ensure that diversity at the national broadcaster “won’t be just a cliche” after cuts.

Lifestyle portal ABC Life has been slated to lose nine staff in a round of 250 redundancies, and many of the unit’s staff are from non-English speaking backgrounds and relatively young.

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ABC managing director rejects Scott Morrison's claim broadcaster's funding 'increasing every year'
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - July 8, 2020

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.”

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ABC boss wants revenue from tech giants to fund journalism
Fergus Hunter - SMH - July 8, 2020

ABC managing director David Anderson says the public broadcaster deserves payments from the global tech giants that distribute its content and the revenue boost would be ploughed back into journalism.

As the ABC cuts programming and jobs in a bid to find $41 million in savings, Mr Anderson said the broadcaster should benefit from revenue-sharing requirements in a new code between digital platforms Google and Facebook and media outlets.

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Australia's commercial broadcasters call for scrapping of drama and children's TV quotas
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - July 6, 2020

Commercial television broadcasters have called for the scrapping of regulations which force them to produce Australian drama, documentary and children’s programming as audiences drift away from free-to-air TV towards streaming services.

While Australian drama used to be profitable for the networks because it was popular, the arrival of on-demand services has seen a dramatic fall in audiences for local drama – from an average of 1 million in 2008 to under 400,000 in 2018.

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The case against Dan Oakes exposes how dangerously fragile press freedom is in Australia
Peter Greste - The Guardian - July 4, 2020

For any law to be effective, there needs to be clarity. Most legislation is so mind-numbingly formal and technical because it is drafted to avoid any confusion about exactly what the law allows, what it forbids, who it applies to and the consequences of breaching it.

Yet, when it comes to the role of the media in Australia, legislated confusion abounds.

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Of public interest
Editorial - The Saturday Paper - July 4 - 10, 2020

The facts of the case are unfathomable, when you lay them out: the real prospect a journalist could be charged for reporting on credible allegations of war crimes committed by Australian troops.

But this is where things now stand, with the Australian Federal Police sending a brief of evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, detailing a case against ABC journalist Dan Oakes for his reporting on the “Afghan Files”.

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ABC voice for diversity in line for redundancy as broadcaster makes $41m in cuts
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - July 3, 2020

An executive who has championed diversity at the ABC has had her role abolished in the broadcaster’s $41m cuts to staff and programs.

Andrea Ho, the head of planning for the regional and local division, told Weekly Beast she could not comment on her redundancy, but “improving diversity and inclusion in ABC content and people has been one part of my professional remit”.

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Clear as ABC: We need our public broadcaster because there is an absence of political truth
John Lord - Australian Independent Media Network - July 3, 2020

In terms of ideology, conservatives would rather be rid of the ABC altogether. Forget the fabulous services it provides in times of crisis, its programming, its news services, employment, its social debating and truth telling.

Just by its truth telling alone it is a hindrance to the ideals of conservatives who believe that informing the public is going a tad too far.

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AFP wants charges considered over ABC's 'Afghan Files' stories
Anthony Galloway - SMH - July 2, 2020

The Australian Federal Police has recommended prosecutors consider laying charges against an ABC journalist over stories revealing allegations of potential war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

The AFP has sent a brief of evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, after three years of investigating ABC journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark over their 2017 "Afghan Files" series of stories.

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Stuck in the craw of the Coalition
Peter Manning - Pearls and Irritations - June 29, 2020

Chair Ita Buttrose had every right to believe that, having been sought out by Prime Minister “Scomo” Morrison himself for the top job at the ABC, she would be listened to with some respect and maybe even ameliorate the toxic relationship that had marked the era with John Howard, Tony “no cuts” Abbott, and Malcolm Turnbull.

But no, her background in journalism, her popularity with women, her awards and populist background counted for nothing when it came down to the wire last Wednesday. National figure that she was and widely-acclaimed appointment, it counted for nothing as her newly-appointed Managing Director informed 250 staff they no longer had a job at the ABC.

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Exclusive: New govt report targets ABC
Rick Morton - The Saturday Paper - June 27 - July 3, 2020

Two days before the ABC confirmed that up to 250 jobs will be cut across the organisation, the federal government finalised a $200,000 offer for consultants to prepare a report on news and media business models looking specifically at the impact of public broadcasters “on commercial operators”.

An approach to market for the report was closed on Monday, with the federal Communications Department under minister Paul Fletcher requesting the successful bidder evaluate failed, successful and emerging news media operating models from around the world.

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#DefundTheABC? What utter Trumpian madness
Peter FitzSimons - SMH - June 28, 2020

Seriously? #DefundTheABC has been trending on Twitter this week, in the aftermath of the government budget cuts, a sign that the madness of Trumpism – attack the quality media and dumb things down so the mob will believe anything – is further taking hold in our own brown and pleasant land. The broad theme of the defund the ABC movement is that we the people get nothing for our money. Seriously!

To reprise a theme, the truth is that never has the ABC proved its value more than during the last two crises of the bushfires and The Plague where for Australians across the country it was the most trusted source for up-to-date and frequently life-saving information.

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Barilaro urges Morrison government to reverse 'devastating and incomprehensible' ABC cuts
Rob Harris & Jennifer Duke - SMH - June 28, 2020

NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro has slammed the Morrison government's "devastating" budget cuts to the ABC and accused his federal counterparts of an “incomprehensible” failure to deliver more jobs to regional Australia.

In a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, the NSW Deputy Premier seized on an exclusive report in Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that revealed Communications Minister Paul Fletcher had ignored two separate proposals by the ABC to spend tens of millions launching regional studios and expanding coverage of remote areas, if the government dumped its funding freeze.

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ABC plan to expand regional coverage was ignored and kept secret
Rob Harris & Zoe Samios - SMH - June 27, 2020

The ABC put forward two separate proposals offering to open more regional Australian studios, expand its coverage of remote communities and hire more journalists in rural areas in return for the federal government dumping its decision to freeze annual funding indexation.

Correspondence between ABC managing director David Anderson and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, shows the national broadcaster was prepared to invest tens of millions of dollars more outside capital city centres if the Morrison government was prepared to reverse its budget cuts.

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ABC must be funded to tell us what we need to know
The Herald's View - SMH - June 27, 2020

Last summer's bushfires wrought damage and destruction across south-eastern Australia, but from the blackened wreckage of many regional communities rose one unmalleable truth: the critical and enduring relevance of the ABC to the lives of all Australians.

When digital and telecommunications networks fell with the flames, fearful residents and holidaymakers were able to switch on ABC Local radio to find out if they were under threat and what they should do. The ABC is not only relevant to Australian lives but has likely saved them too.

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A tribute to what remains of our ABC - featuring the (former) ABC Interpretive Dance Bandicoot
First Dog on the Moon - The Guardian - June 26, 2020

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It's been a devastating week for the ABC, and all Australians will suffer
Ita Buttrose - SMH - June 26, 2020

There is a reason why the majority of Australians trust the ABC.

The ABC has not only helped shape Australia, we are the national voice that unites us.

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Scott Morrison is being fancy-pants in saying there are no cuts to the ABC
Margaret Simons - SMH - June 26, 2020

It’s been a tough week for journalism. Also a bad month, year, decade and century. The latest bad news is cuts at the ABC, which we knew were coming. They were delayed because of the twin crises that gripped the nation this year – bushfires and COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the COVID crisis has accelerated the collapse in commercial media business models, which started in the 1990s as classified advertising disappeared online, and accelerated this century as much of the remaining advertising moved to digital platforms such as Facebook and Google.

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The ABC and the Dance of a Thousand Cuts
Alan Sunderland - Meanjin - June 25, 2020

So here we are again. Shuffling around in the same old dance, performing the steps we all know so well.

The Government cuts the ABC’s funding yet again, blandly asserting that times are tough and we all need to live within our means.

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'There are no cuts': Scott Morrison rejects criticism of ABC funding levels
Fergus Hunter - SMH - June 25, 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has staunchly defended the level of funding provided to the ABC, insisting the government has not cut its budget, and backed the national broadcaster's efforts to be more focused on regional and suburban Australia.

The ABC announced a range of cuts on Wednesday, including 250 job losses and the end of the 7.45am radio news bulletin, in a bid to save $40 million. The measures triggered a wave of criticism about the funding squeeze imposed on the broadcaster by the Coalition in recent federal budgets.

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Ita Buttrose lashes government over handling of ABC funding cuts
Rob Harris & Zoe Samios - SMH - June 25, 2020

ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose has lashed out at Communications Minister Paul Fletcher over the Morrison government's handling of its multimillion-dollar budget cuts and accused him of lying about the national broadcaster's efforts to collaborate with SBS.

In a fresh war of words between the taxpayer-funded broadcaster and the Coalition government, Ms Buttrose has accused Mr Fletcher of twice failing to provide the ABC board and management with the critical data that informed an independent report proposing the closure of two broadcast channels and the sharing of back-office and support services with fellow public broadcaster SBS.

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‘Over to you, Ita’: The ABC’s five-year plan is spin for managed decline
Quentin Dempster - The New Daily - June 25, 2020

Ita Buttrose and her ABC board have produced a glossy five-year plan to cover up the fact the ABC is in accelerating decline through Morrison government defunding.

Corporate spin has replaced the hard journalism that the ABC claims it epitomises as a frank and fearless news source.

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What the ABC's new strategy means for viewers and listeners
Zoe Samios - SMH - June 24, 2020

Devoted ABC radio listeners who have spent years tuning in to the 7.45am news bulletin and its distinctive 18-second theme song will soon be disappointed.

After more than 80 years, the 15-minute bulletin, which runs across ABC Local radio stations and includes the extended version of orchestral tune Majestic Fanfare, will be axed as part of a five-year strategic plan designed to save the public broadcaster $40 million and attract younger audiences.

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ABC to cut 250 jobs, dump 7.45am radio news bulletin and axe ABC Life brand
Daniel Hurst - The Guardian - June 24, 2020

The ABC is suffering “death by a thousand cuts” and “an act of vandalism”, unions have said, after Australia’s national broadcaster unveiled cuts to 250 jobs and sweeping changes to plug a budget shortfall.

The opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, also accused the government of an “appalling” failure to value the ABC - which played a critical role in Australia’s democracy - and he was “very sorry to see job losses at a time like this”.

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ABC to axe content and shift staff from Sydney in bid to save $40m
Zoe Samios - SMH - June 24, 2020

ABC management rejected key recommendations outlined in a government-funded efficiency review that was made public hours after staff were informed of the national broadcaster's new five-year strategy and plans for 250 job losses.

The 120-page efficiency review, led by former Foxtel boss Peter Tonagh and former media regulator Richard Bean, proposed the closure of two ABC broadcast channels and the sharing of back-office and support services with fellow public broadcaster SBS.

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Up to 250 ABC jobs to go, programs axed, to deal with budget shortfall
Brett Worthington & Georgia Hitch - The New Daily - June 24, 2020

The ABC will axe up to 250 jobs and cut programming as it deals with budget cuts of $84 million.

Managing director David Anderson said a flagship radio news bulletin would go, the ABC Life lifestyle portal would be rebranded, and programs would be reviewed as part of a major overhaul of the national broadcaster.

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This is the mourning news: ABC's stupid decision to cut its vital organs
Matt Peacock - SMH - June 24, 2020

The latest round of cuts to ABC staff is a needless disaster, inflicted by a Coalition government seemingly unable to recognise the essential role of our public broadcaster. A huge number of Australians – including Coalition voters – love the ABC and particularly value its role in times of emergency, such as bushfires or pandemics.

Yet since the Coalition was elected on a promise of "no cuts", almost a quarter of its staff have been sacked, the result of an ongoing campaign of cuts and denigration by zealots and vested interests in the commercial media. Now we have the lunatic decision to ditch the 7.45am radio news, a flagship program across the nation.

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Latest $84 million cuts rip the heart out of the ABC, and our democracy
Alexandra Wake & Michael Ward - The Conversation - June 24, 2020

At the height of the coronavirus emergency, and on the back of devastating bushfires, Australia’s much awarded and trusted national broadcaster has again been forced to make major cuts to staff, services and programs. It is doing so to offset the latest $84 million budget shortfall as a result of successive cuts from the Coalition government.

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ABC board elects to take 10% pay cut amid coronavirus economic slump
Katharine Murphy - The Guardian - June 23, 2020

Board members at the ABC have elected to take a 10% pay cut over the next six months in recognition of the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus, which has sparked mass unemployment and cut a swathe through commercial media.

With the ABC poised on Wednesday to unveil its five-year strategic plan taking account of government budget cuts, Guardian Australia understands the board wrote to the Remuneration Tribunal and received its consent to cut fees by 10% for six months from July to December this year.

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Unrelenting attacks: News Corp alleges the ABC is 'too left-wing'
Matthew Peel - Independent Australia - June 21, 2020

The top four search results for the term "ABC left-wing" on Google produce articles from News Corp media institutions.

The first three come from Sky News commentary and the fourth result is an article by The Australian.

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Should we save our ABC?
Martin Hirst - Independent Australia - June 16, 2020

THE ABC is facing an existential crisis brought about by over two decades of savage funding cuts that began under John Howard in 1996 and are continuing under Scott Morrison. The rot really started in 2014 with Tony Abbott.

On the eve of the 2013 Federal Election campaign, then Liberal leader Tony Abbott stared down the barrel of a television camera and promised (among other things) that there would be “no cuts” to the funding of public broadcasters, the ABC and the SBS.

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Cutting the ABC cuts public trust, a cost no democracy can afford
Andrea Carson - The Conversation - June 10, 2020

While Australians are singing the praises of the front-line workers during the COVID-19 crisis, there is a forgotten front line that has also made personal sacrifices to help us get through the pandemic: ABC journalists.

From radio producers to TV presenters to technicians who get up before dawn to bring us the news, ABC staff have been bringing us the facts about the global crisis at a time when misinformation and disinformation are rife and dangerous.

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ABC to slash programming and services as it grapples with Coalition funding cuts
Amanda Meade & Paul Karp - The Guardian - June 10, 2020

The ABC will unveil substantial cuts to programming and services at the end of the month – on top of the 250 redundancies – to meet a $41m budget shortfall.

The cuts, which will impact audiences, are being forced on the ABC by a funding freeze despite the vital role it played during the bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic. The staff cuts will come from the news, television, entertainment and regional divisions.

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Calls for journalist protections
Karen Middleton - The Saturday Paper - June 6 - 12, 2020

The federal government is being encouraged to consider special legislation to entrench protections for journalists, as concerns grow about a bill that would undermine current safeguards.

The new data access bill has prompted warnings that it could leave Australian journalists whose data is stored offshore with American companies more vulnerable to security agency access than their peers in the United States and Britain.

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Let's reclaim our freedom and decriminalise journalism
Marcus Strom - SMH - June 4, 2020

Thursday marks 12 months since Australian Federal Police raided the home of a News Corporation journalist, Annika Smethurst. One day later, the AFP also raided the Sydney offices of the ABC. Only last week, Smethurst learned she will not be charged for writing the news story that prompted the raid. Two ABC journalists are still waiting to learn their fate.

Those June 2019 raids grabbed global attention about the state of press freedom in Australia, not least because dawn raids of journalists are the type of thing you would expect from a despotic police state, not a country that prides itself on being a liberal democracy.

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Current affairs heavyweight has maintained its clout
Debi Enker - SMH - June 3, 2020

Amid the intensive coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the standout local productions about the crisis was an episode of Four Corners screened early in May.

Flattening the Curve, produced by Janine Cohen (and available on iview), surveyed a range of health professionals in metropolitan and regional areas around Australia.

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Australians say ABC saved lives during summer bushfires, royal commission told
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - June 2, 2020

The ABC has released research underlining its role during the summer bushfires ahead of a board meeting on Wednesday to discuss the looming cuts at the national broadcaster as well as recent calls by the government for a wage freeze for ABC staff.

The independent research, based on a qualitative survey of more than 1,600 people and quantitive results from almost 400 more, found 60% of people in bushfire-affected areas said information from the ABC helped ensure their safety.

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Their ABC: How Conservatives Beat Aunty Into Submission
Situation Theatre - May 29, 2020

If you’re furious about the Coalition’s ongoing abuse of the ABC and how this plays out in the ever-rightward drift of our beloved broadcaster, you’re not alone.

It’s a kind of abuse which is undermining one of the greatest pillars of our democracy and for many of us, it is heartbreaking.

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The rot in Australian media is already advanced. We need to understand the damage wrought in 2020
Jason Wilson - The Guardian - May 29, 2020

The Northern Age was founded in Townsville in the 1890s – there are conflicting reports of the precise date – in what was still the Colony of Queensland. 

It was moved to Ingham, just north of Townsville, then the smaller neighboring town of Halifax, changing its name to the Planter, and perhaps the Northern Planter, before returning to Ingham for good.

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‘Neighbours is irrelevant to most islanders’: Pacific experts criticise Australian TV initiative
Kate Lyons - The Guardian - May 26, 2020

A move to broadcast Australian commercial television, including Neighbours, Border Security and Masterchef in Pacific nations could be counterproductive in promoting Australia’s relationship with the region, an expert media group has warned.

The new PacificAus TV program will allow Australian content to be aired free of charge by broadcasters in seven Pacific nations, at a cost of $17.1m, in a move seen as an attempt to combat Chinese influence in the Pacific region.

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BuzzFeed out: So much for diversity in Australia’s media
Quentin Dempster - Pearls & Irritations - May 21, 2020

In 2018 BuzzFeed, which started here in 2014, was put up as a burgeoning media diversity justification for the historic approval the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission gave to the merger of Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims ruled:

While the merger between these two big-name media players (Nine and Fairfax) raised a number of extremely complex issues, and will likely reduce competition, we concluded that the proposed merger was not likely to substantially lessen competition in any market in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act. With the growth in online news … many other players, albeit smaller, now provide some degree of competitive constraint. These include, for example, The Guardian, The New Daily, BuzzFeed, Crikey and The Daily Mail.

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ABC managing director David Anderson takes pay cut
Zoe Samios - SMH - May 20, 2020

ABC managing director David Anderson has taken a pay cut and executives at the national broadcaster will forgo bonuses as it attempts to slash costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Anderson told staff in an email on Wednesday that his salary was cut, at his own request, by 5 per cent in April and that the reduction would remain in place until the end of September. The media executive also rejected a planned pay increase, but said he could not enforce a pay freeze on all ABC employees without seeking permission from the Fair Work Commission.

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Union says government proposal for ABC wage freeze threatens broadcaster's independence
Katharine Murphy - The Guardian - May 20, 2020

The journalists’ union has blasted the Morrison government for exerting pressure on the ABC to embark on a six-month wage freeze, declaring the intervention by the communications minister, Paul Fletcher, threatens the national broadcaster’s independence.

The blast from the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance comes as Guardian Australia has learned the national broadcaster’s managing director, David Anderson, told a staff meeting earlier this week senior executives would forgo their bonuses and “at-risk” payments this financial year because of the Covid-19 crisis.

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ABC must freeze wages, government warns
Katharine Murphy - The Guardian - May 20, 2020

The Morrison government has put the national broadcaster on notice that it expects the ABC to embark on a six-month wage freeze to bring it in line with other taxpayer-funded agencies during the Covid-19 crisis.

The warning follows the government’s decision in early April to defer general wage increases for commonwealth public servants for six months. The public service commissioner followed up that directive by writing to all non-public service agencies – including the ABC – informing them the government expected them to adopt the same practice.

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IPA is wrecking our democracy
Mark Buckley - Pearls & Irritations - May 15, 2020

Its ideas haven’t really evolved much, but if you want to characterise them, they are crudely elitist, ideologically stunted, narrow minded, science-phobic, greedy and in most cases, fully imported. For a charity which pays no tax, they have very few clients in need.

The only reason they are of any interest to anyone is that they have captured the Federal Government, by stealth, and their inane policies are the reason this country is so conspicuously under-achieving. There is not one thinker of note amongst its membership. Some of the current members appear to be the offspring of former members; a sort of self-replicating supply of apparatchiks. If you are searching for the reason behind the diminishing sense of pride attached to being Australian, the IPA is to blame.

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Merge ABC and SBS. It Makes Sense
Alan Sunderland - Meanjin - May 11, 2020

Eventually we are going to emerge from this coronavirus slumber. Broke, chastened but hopefully mostly still alive. And when we do, we will face a different world. I can’t predict just how different things will be, but I can predict one thing. The Government is going to have to deal with a staggering amount of debt.

Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg will be looking for coins down the back of every couch, searching the pockets of old trousers for forgotten change and putting that old exercise bike up on Gumtree.

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Hundreds facing the sack with ABC cuts
Mike Seccombe - The Saturday Paper - May 9 - 15, 2020

It sounds like a marketing slogan, almost a cliché: in times of national crisis, Australians turn to the national broadcaster. But over the past six months or so, it has proved profoundly true.

First came the bushfire crisis, when the ABC’s network of regional reporters distinguished themselves not just in reporting the disaster as it unfolded but also warning those in harm’s way.

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The ABC is on the IPA's hit list
Mark Buckley - Independent Australia - May 8, 2020

In 2018, two researchers from the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) wrote a book titled ‘Against Public Broadcasting: Why We Should Privatise the ABC and How to Do It’. The main thesis of the book and the “how to do it” part is that the Turnbull Government should privatise the ABC by giving it away for free, either to the ABC’s employees or if that was not acceptable, to random Australian citizens. They could write off the purchase in tax credits.

One has to wonder, firstly, where they got the idea that “giving something away” equates to privatising it. On reflection, during the neoliberal boom in the 1970s, many state-owned enterprises were sold at knockdown prices all around the world. Many of those transactions would not stand up to scrutiny nowadays, as so many of them discounted taxpayer value and essentially gifted valuable utilities to party donors. Russia, the United Kingdom and Australia, amongst other countries, created whole suburbs of “kleptocrats” from transactions like that and we are still paying the price.

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ABC loses $783m funding since 2014 when Coalition made its first cuts – report
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - May 4, 2020

The ABC has lost $783m in funding since the Coalition came to power in 2014, a new report on the accumulated impact of government cuts to the public broadcaster shows.

The summer bushfires meant the corporation has had to absorb an additional $3m in emergency broadcasting costs on top of an $84m indexation pause imposed by the then prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in 2018.

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The War on Journalism: the MEAA Report into the State of Press Freedom in Australia in 2020
Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance - May 3, 2020

The War on Journalism is MEAA’s annual report into the state of press freedom in Australia in 2020.

The MEAA press freedom reports are released on UNESCO World Press Freedom Day, May 3, every year.

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Explainer: what did the High Court find in the Annika Smethurst v AFP case?
Rebecca Ananian-Welsh - The Conversation - April 15, 2020

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) attracted global criticism for executing a raid on the Canberra home of journalist Annika Smethurst on June 4 2019.

The raid was prompted by an April 2018 report on a “top secret” memo leaked from within the Department of Defence. The memo revealed a proposal to grant the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) unprecedented powers to secretly access Australians’ digital information without a warrant.

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The High Court rules in favour of News Corp, but against press freedom
Peter Greste - The Conversation - April 15, 2020

It is easy to assume Australia has a free press. Our squawky newspapers are filled with stories about the failings of government, acid-tongued columnists routinely lash our politicians, and until May last year the police hardly ever raided newsrooms or journalists.

On Wednesday, the High Court appeared to uphold the principle of press freedom when it ruled that the warrant the Australian Federal Police used to search News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst’s home in 2019 was invalid.

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Regional media get COVID lifeline but ABC, SBS remain in peril
Alexandra Wake & Michael Ward - The Conversation - April 15, 2020

After weeks of devastating reports of local newspaper closures and regional broadcast stations turning off local news services, media supporters and observers were united in joy as the Australian government announced a coronavirus relief package for local journalism.

The four-part initiative has been designed to assist local newspapers and commercial free-to-air radio and television and subscription television, following calls for a lifeline from the industry and the communities they serve.

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Guardian Australia doubles audience to become fourth most popular news site in the country
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - April 14, 2020

Guardian Australia’s audience increased by 104% in March, making it the fourth most popular news site in the nation with 11.6 million readers.

The global Covid-19 pandemic has seen a spike in traffic to news websites, with Guardian Australia experiencing the biggest surge in the Australian market.

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Pell takes aim at Premier, police and ABC
Patrick Durkin - Australian Financial Review - April 14, 2020

Freed Cardinal George Pell has taken aim at the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Victoria Police and the ABC, warning the pendulum has swung too far in considering every accusation to be the gospel truth.

Cardinal Pell's first recorded interview since being released from prison comes as the Herald Sun in Melbourne report Victoria Police have launched another investigation, by a different accuser, in relation to child abuse allegations dating back to the 1970s.

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Andrew Bolt and the ABC: did the reporting on George Pell step over a line?
Margaret Simons - The Guardian - April 14, 2020

This week I rang the ABC investigative journalist Sarah Ferguson to ask what she thought of the attacks on Revelation, her television series about sex abuse in the Catholic church.

“Have there been some attacks?” she replied, deadpan.

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Scott Morrison dismisses call to reverse ABC funding freeze after bushfire and coronavirus crises
SBS News - April 8, 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has dismissed a call from Labor to backtrack on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's funding freeze.

During Question Time in federal parliament on Wednesday, Labor leader Anthony Albanese asked Mr Morrison about the ABC's funding, saying the broadcaster played an essential role in providing information to the public during this summer's bushfire season and the coronavirus pandemic.

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ABC backs its reporting on George Pell after Andrew Bolt accuses it of a witch-hunt
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - April 8, 2020

The ABC has backed its journalists and its reporting on George Pell after the cardinal’s release from jail prompted a spate of attacks on the national broadcaster by Pell supporters.

Minutes after Pell’s conviction was quashed by the high court, the News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt posted a blog saying the cardinal was innocent and pointing the finger at the ABC for allegedly conducting a witch-hunt to have him convicted.

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The ABC is an essential service but funding cuts remain, says boss
Karl Quinn - Brisbane Times - April 2, 2020

The ABC could have to look at closing a channel if the government remains committed to the funding cuts announced in the 2018 federal budget, according to managing director David Anderson.

"We don't think we can bridge the gap purely from efficiency alone," said Mr Anderson on Thursday, as the broadcaster revealed a suite of programming that it hopes will help Australians through the next three months of social isolation.

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ABC to broadcast educational shows, mini lessons on kids channel
Jordan Baker - SMH - April 1, 2020

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation will broadcast educational shows and mini lessons on one of its children's channels from mid-April, with shows for primary students in the morning and high school content in the afternoon.

The broadcaster will create the mini-lessons, run by teachers, for the ABC Education portal and on ABC Me. They will be partially financed by the NSW and Victorian education departments.

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ABC's Norman Swan denies 'rancour' with chief medical officer after PM's office intervention on coronavirus
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - March 25, 2020

The ABC broadcaster Norman Swan has said there is “no rancour” between him and the chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, after the prime minister’s office called the ABC to ask the two to discuss coronavirus strategy.

Scott Morrison’s office called the ABC’s news boss, Gaven Morris, last week suggesting Swan should speak to Murphy.

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Who is really in charge at the ABC?
Stephen Brook - SMH - March 23, 2020

This week was to be the most consequential of ABC managing director David Anderson’s 31-year career at the public broadcaster. It's the week in which the ultra-low-profile executive was poised to step out from behind the shadow of his celebrity chairwoman, Ita Buttrose, and, well, do something.

But the unveiling of Anderson’s ambitious five-year plan to push the ABC towards a digital future, fine tune some of his zany predecessor Michelle Guthrie’s restructuring, and slash about 200 jobs necessitated by the government’s $84 million budget indexation freeze, was postponed due the coronavirus crisis.

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ABC suspends Foreign Correspondent as Buttrose outlines emergency plan
Helen Pitt - SMH - March 21, 2020

The ABC will suspend its television show Foreign Correspondent and has put a travel ban on its overseas correspondents in light of the coronavirus pandemic, ABC chair Ita Buttrose says.

"Some shows will need to be suspended for now, like Foreign Correspondent ... we've told our international people they can't fly anywhere in the interests of their health and welfare," Ms Buttrose told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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'Whatever it takes': Ita Buttrose promises the ABC won't be muzzled
Helen Pitt - SMH - March 20, 2020

ABC chairman Ita Buttrose describes herself as a “news junkie”.

It’s no surprise, perhaps, after a journalism career of 63 years spanning newspapers, magazines, radio and television. What is a surprise, though, even to her now, is how she found herself at 78 at the helm of the national public broadcaster.

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ABC forced to delay five-year plan and job cuts announcement
Michael Lallo - SMH - March 19, 2020

The ABC has been forced to delay the release of its five-year blueprint – including job cuts – to prioritise its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The national broadcaster was due to announce its long-term plan at the end of this month. A three-year funding freeze that took effect last July, stripping $84 million from ABC's budget, will result in an estimated 200 redundancies.

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Democracy dies in darkness – but AAP closure shows it can be seriously hurt in daylight
Stephen Mayne - The New Daily - March 6, 2020

Can anyone else think of a situation when the two biggest players in a market, both of which are listed on the ASX, get together and agree to close a joint venture which is a key supplier to most of their smaller competitors?

Welcome to the News Corp and Nine decision to summarily shutter Australian Associated Press (AAP) on June 26, ending 85 years of history and jeopardising 600 media jobs.

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News Corp finds someone to blame after pulling the plug on AAP (hint: it's not News Corp)
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - March 6, 2020

The demise of AAP has unexpectedly ignited a war of words between media companies over who is to blame.

According to News Corp – one of the major shareholders who actually took the decision to close AAP – the shuttering of the vital news service is the fault of digital giants Google and Facebook … and the ABC and Guardian Australia. Wait. What?

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News Corp, Nine accused of closing AAP to damage competitors
The New Daily - March 5, 2020

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and fellow media giant Nine have been accused of closing news agency, Australian Associated Press, to damage their smaller competitors.

After repeatedly asserting that unfair competition from tech companies  Google and Facebook brought about AAP’s demise, new reports indicate News Corp and Nine might have had a more cynical motive for closing the decades-old news agency and putting hundreds of staff out of work.

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'You don't save money moving house': ABC boss resists call to shift
Jennifer Duke, Fergus Hunter and Zoe Samios - SMH - March 4, 2020

ABC managing director David Anderson says calls for the public broadcaster to move out of its offices in Ultimo, Sydney and Southbank, Melbourne are not realistic as it cannot afford to invest "hundreds of millions" into relocating.

Mr Anderson said the taxpayer-funded organisation was keen to better represent households in the outer suburbs of cities but noted this would present an additional cost and would not be an efficiency measure.

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AAP is Australian democracy's safety net – its closure will affect us all
Margaret Simons - The Guardian - March 3, 2020

The closure of Australian Associated Press, announced today, is a tragedy for our already under-reported nation. It underlines what was already clear: that the crisis in public interest journalism has reached a critical stage.

It affects us all, threatens our democracy and requires urgent and enlightened responses from our policymakers.

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Bushfires add $3m to ABC emergency broadcasting costs as Coalition cuts funding
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - March 3, 2020

The summer bushfires added an extra $3m in emergency broadcasting costs to the ABC budget at a time the corporation had to absorb an ongoing annual budget cut of $105.9m, the managing director, David Anderson, has told a parliamentary committee.

The ABC told the committee the Coalition’s $84m budget reduction announced in 2018 translated to a cut, but the defence minister, Linda Reynolds, insisted it was an “indexation pause” and ABC funding had been maintained.

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ABC urged to consider selling inner-city offices
Jennifer Duke - SMH - March 3, 2020

The ABC has been urged to consider selling its capital city offices in areas such as Sydney's Ultimo and Melbourne's Southbank and moving to "purpose-built" facilities elsewhere.

Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher "strongly encouraged" the public broadcaster to explore a sale of its inner-city premises as it grapples with a funding freeze projected to shave up to $84 million off its annual budget.

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ABC workers face anxious wait over job, program cuts
Michael Lallo - SMH - March 1, 2020

David Anderson did not mince words at a Senate Estimates hearing last October. “There will be job losses,” ABC’s managing director warned. “It's not something I can quantify at this point in time. There's still more work to be done.”

Towards the end of March, Anderson will reveal a five-year plan for the national broadcaster. To the frustration of staff, it’s unlikely to specify which parts of the organisation will bear the brunt of these cuts or how many workers they might lose.

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ABC staff fear bushfire funding boost won't be enough
Michael Lallo - SMH - February 29, 2020

ABC staff fear a potential boost in emergency broadcast funding could provide false reassurance to disaster-prone communities.

Executives at the broadcaster are lobbying the federal government to lift a three-year indexation freeze that took effect last July, stripping $84 million from its budget. Senior managers say the request is a long shot and that if ABC receives any additional funding, it's likely to be a smaller sum in the form of a tied grant, which can only be spent on emergency news coverage.

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Court ruling against ABC highlights the enormous deficiency in laws protecting journalists’ sources
Dennis Muller - The Conversation - February 18, 2020

The federal court’s rejection of the ABC case against the Australian Federal Police raid on its Sydney headquarters in June 2019 reveals two issues of great importance to freedom of the press in Australia:


If AFP raid on the ABC was legal the law is wrong
Editorial - The Canberra Times - February 18, 2020


Search warrant authorising AFP raid on ABC valid, court rules
Georgina Mitchell, Michaela Whitbourn & Fergus Hunter - SMH - February 17, 2020

A search warrant authorising the Australian Federal Police raid on the ABC's Sydney headquarters was legally valid, a Federal Court judge has ruled, prompting calls for an overhaul of laws to protect journalists' sources.

The decision, which may be the subject of an appeal, was handed down by Justice Wendy Abraham in Sydney on Monday. In a 103-page judgment, Justice Abraham comprehensively dismissed the ABC's legal bid to overturn the warrant and ordered the broadcaster to pay costs.

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Federal police raid on ABC over Afghan files ruled valid

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - February 17, 2020

The ABC’s legal challenge to the validity of a raid by the Australian federal police on the national broadcaster has been dismissed by the federal court.

The ABC’s news director, Gaven Morris, said the decision was “really disappointing” and a blow to press freedom and the public’s right to know.

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Senator James McGrath takes swing at ABC, as government rorts spiral out of control

Michael Pascoe - The New Daily - February 13, 2020

The dogs are barking at the ABC that its excellent disaster coverage over summer has blown the news budget.

That means more jobs will have to go.

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Australian federal police obtained six warrants to hunt down journalists’ sources in 2018-19

Josh Taylor - The Guardian - January 29, 2020

Australian federal police accessed the metadata of journalists 20 times and obtained six journalist information warrants to identify those journalists’ sources in the last financial year.

The data is contained in the federal government’s report on law enforcement agencies’ use of telecommunications data for investigating crimes and surveillance for the 2018-19 financial year.

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Clearest evidence that Morrison must reverse ABC cuts

Michelle Rowland MP, Shadow Minister for Communications - Media Release - January 23, 2020

Scott Morrison has received the clearest evidence yet that he must reverse his cuts to the ABC, with the ABC Managing Director this morning highlighting the whole of agency impact of the unprecedented bushfire season.
 
David Anderson today confirmed the ABC has covered 850 emergency broadcasting events since 1 July 2019 so far. That’s more than double the number of emergency broadcasting events they covered all of last year, and almost triple the year before that, and we’re only halfway through this year’s reporting period.

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'Life and death': ABC battles to restore damaged networks during bushfires

Zoe Samios & Fergus Hunter - SMH - January 11, 2020

The ABC's radio and TV networks have sustained heavy damage from the bushfire crisis across NSW and Victoria, forcing the national broadcaster to call on the military, commercial media rivals and members of the public to maintain emergency broadcasting.

With a range of radio and TV services knocked out in parts of the country, the broadcaster has been mobilising to restore local radio stations as the priority because of their critical role in providing information to communities during disasters.

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ABC’s coverage of the Australian bushfires
Public Media Alliance - January 10, 2020

ABC’s extensive emergency coverage of the bushfires in Australia across television, radio and online services is in no doubt lifesaving, with staff working tirelessly to provide accurate, reliable and rolling coverage under incredible pressure and in precarious conditions.

Since the bushfires began in early September last year, the scale of the crisis has been unprecedented. More than 20 people have been killed, close to 2000 homes have been destroyed and wildlife and livestock have been majorly affected across the country. Conditions are predicted to worsen. 

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Two media executives and lawyer passed over for Ita Buttrose as ABC chair, FOI confirms
Margaret Simons - The Guardian - January 9, 2020

Two senior media executives and an eminent media lawyer were passed over for appointment as chair of the ABC board last year in favour of prime minister Scott Morrison’s “captain’s pick” of journalist and businesswoman Ita Buttrose, documents released on Wednesday under freedom of information confirm.

Buttrose was appointed as the direct choice of the prime minister despite the fact she had not been through the arm’s length independent selection process.

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ABC under 'growing' cost pressure as bushfire emergency broadcasts surge
Jennifer Duke - The Age - January 3, 2020

The ABC's extensive coverage of bushfires ravaging the country threatens to push the taxpayer-funded news organisation into more budget strife with emergency broadcasting events on track to double in 2020.

There have been 670 emergency broadcasting events for the 2019-20 financial year so far, an ABC spokesman said, compared to 371 for the full 2018-19 financial year. In 2017-18 there were 256 events, a figure that had been surpassed by mid-September 2019.

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