The ABC has again found itself in the news headlines, this time, it’s the broadcaster’s director of news getting the spotlight.
Earlier this week, Gaven Morris told ABC staff in a memo, as well as announcing over his personal Twitter account, the broadcaster was facing a $43 million cut to newsgathering services thanks to the recently released Turnbull Budget for 2018.
A claim which Morris can now no longer make sense of.
“I can’t fully explain what was or wasn’t said.”
“What I do know is our people were left with a very clear impression that news funding would be discontinued,” he said.
“Now if that’s not the case and the government is open to a conversation about continuing that funding, we are ready to go … I can’t fully explain the discrepancy between the accounts of what was and wasn’t said,” he added.
Morris isn’t the only person confused by his claim, with communications minister Mitch Fifield also commenting on Morris’ incorrect figure.
A statement from a spokesperson speaking on behalf of Fifield said, “We are unable to explain why the ABC were confused about normal triennium budget processes, nor why they wrongly asserted funding was not being renewed when they had not even applied for it.”
“Nor can we explain why they at no stage sought clarification from the minister or his office, despite being informed about the measures … several weeks ago.”
Morris apologised for the figure during a conference with the Melbourne Press Club on Thursday.
While he was quick to backpedal on the $43 million, Morris did not downplay the impact the actual budget cuts would have on the ABC, a total of $83.7 million over the next three years.
“Make no mistake, there is no more fat to cut at the ABC. Any more cuts to the ABC cut into the muscle of the organisation.”
All the while, Morris said news program Four Corners would receive extra episodes.
“We are adding four locally made episodes to the Four Corners’ season, meaning we will now broadcast 44 programs a year,” he said.
“(Four Corners) EP Sally Neighbour is already recruiting some digital producer roles so we can ensure this incredible reporting isn’t just shown once on a Monday night, but goes on to have an equal digital life as well.”
In other ABC news, Melbourne businessman Joseph Gersh has just been appointed by the Turnbull government to the board of the broadcaster.