by Anna Chang
The Federal Budget also includes an $83.7 million cut to the ABC in the form of an indexation freeze until 2022, while Minister Fifield has announced another ‘efficiency review’ for the public broadcaster.
Described by Michelle Guthrie as a ‘watershed moment’, this cut has lead to the ABC Managing Director to openly question whether the cut would affect the ABC’s ability to deliver on its charter.
In short, is this the straw that breaks the ABC’s back?
This funding cut is worrying on two counts: firstly because Australia Institute research shows that the ABC is Australia’s most trusted broadcaster. And at a time when so-called ‘fake news’ is at an all-time high and journalism jobs are being cut across the country, has there ever been a greater need for a strong, independent and trusted national broadcaster?
And secondly, because Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party has previously tried to use ABC funding as a bargaining chip and Pauline Hanson herself has told Sky News she wanted to ‘whack’ its funding come budget time, and now the Coalition has clearly listened and delivered.
Meanwhile, on the horizon this year are the rest of the Coalition’s media ownership deal with the One Nation party — explicitly targeted at the ABC — including their ‘competitive neutrality’ inquiry and also Minister Fifield’s new efficiency review as the ABC enters talks to renew their triennial funding agreement with their current funding agreement ending this financial year.
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