The ABC is one of the biggest victims of the 2018-19 budget, with the government slashing $83.7 million from the national broadcaster over its forthcoming funding triennium, which commences in 2019.
The ABC and SBS operate on a triennial funding basis, in which a funding envelope is agreed over three years. However, the government has indicated that the ABC will not merely receive no additional funding in the 2019-22 triennium, it will face a real funding cut.
In order to ensure the ABC continues to find back-office efficiencies the Government will pause indexation of the ABC’s operational funding. This will result in savings to the Budget of $83.7 million over three years from 2019-20 to 2021-22. This will maintain the ABC’s base operational funding at 2018-19 levels …
The broadcaster, which has recently embarrassed the government with its coverage of the company tax issue and which has been targeted with a “competitive neutrality” inquiry aimed at curbing any activities deemed to threaten commercial broadcasters, is already in the process of cutting journalists as part of managing director Michelle Guthrie’s restructuring plans.
It has not recovered funding levels from the “efficiency dividend” imposed on it by the Abbott government in 2014 — in violation of its preelection promise — which cost it tens of millions.
“We all have to live within our means, even the ABC,” Treasurer Scott Morrison quipped when asked about the cut.
Well, that may be, but these cuts stand in stark contrast to last year’s $30 million handout to Foxtel, and, later, the licence fee relief gifted to Australia’s commercial free-to-air networks.