Malcolm Turnbull’s Budget for 2018 has been released, with a major cut to ABC funding over the next three years.
As outlined in the package, the national broadcaster’s ‘indexing’ – the amount of funding received incrementally from the government – will be frozen until 2022.
This will equate to a loss of $83.7 million in funding for the ABC from the Liberal Government, leaving the broadcaster $3.16 billion in funding until 2022.
The cuts add on to the $254 million the ABC has lost in funding since 2014.
Now, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) has made a statement on the cuts, labelling them “dangerous and irresponsible”,
In the statement, the industry body said, “The Federal Budget’s cut of $127 million from the ABC represents a dangerous and irresponsible assault on public broadcasting in Australia.”
Adding, “There are grave implications for audiences seeking news and information, and these cuts only weaken public broadcasting at the very time when commercial broadcasting is struggling due to the challenges of digital disruption – particularly for audiences in rural, regional and remote Australia.”
“There are also serious implications for television production.”
The MEAA wasn’t the only one to criticise the cuts.
In an email sent out to staff following the budget announcement, ABC MD Michelle Guthrie said she was “disappointed” with the news.
“I am very disappointed and concerned that after the measures we have introduced in recent years to deliver better and more efficient services, the Government has now seen fit to deliver what amounts to a further substantial budget cut,” Guthrie said.
“This decision will make it very difficult for the ABC to meet its charter requirements and audience expectations,” she added.
In his justification for the cuts to ABC, Treasurer Scott Morrison said, “everyone has to live within their means”.
Meanwhile, fellow broadcaster SBS will receive $14.6 million in funding from the government.
The ABC has had a tenuous relationship with the government for some time.
Last year, senator Pauline Hanson told media she would only support the media reforms if $300 million was stripped from ABC funding.
As well as this, a number of senators including Hanson called for ABC execs to be more transparent with their salaries.
This is not the first time the ABC has found itself in strife the government this month.
Just last week, ABC political editor Andrew Probyns was given a slap on the wrist by both ACMA and the Communications Minister Mitch Fifield after he called former prime minister Tony Abbott “destructive” during a story.