The Prime Minister will be forced to eat his own words if the reports are true and he does attempt to de-fund public broadcasters in the federal budget. GetUp, for one, will force them down his throat …

But the backlash of a broken promise won’t be Tony Abbott’s only problem. The tricky part is nobbling a perceived enemy where it hurts while not creating others in his own camp. The Nationals won’t stand for cuts to regional broadcasting services; Abbott’s surgery has to be delicate enough to quarantine local radio services.

Applying an efficiency divided, which is now on the cabinet table according to one report, is a blunt instrument. Management in its wisdom would identify fat to slice. Previous audits haven’t found much; history shows the cuts will be in drama production and more expensive programming — unpopular in an electorate that holds the ABC in remarkably high esteem.

But on a purely investment/audience ratio, it’s the regional services that have the weakest case for maintaining existing funding. If ABC chief Mark Scott is as vindictive as the government, the dividend as leader will be far from efficient.

Peter Fray

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