The ABC and SBS will have $43.5m slashed from their funding over four years as part of the federal budget the government announced last night.
The cuts are a broken election promise by Prime Minister Tony Abbott who promised not to cut funding to the national broadcasters.
But the 2014/15 budget includes a 1% cut in their base funding, described as a “down payment” on an efficiency study completed earlier this year.
The ABC will also lose its $223m contract to run the Australia Network over 10 years.
In a statement communications minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “The Government is confident the broadcasters can improve work practices and operate more efficiently in their day-to-day operations.”
Turnbull said all government bodies must play a role in building a stronger economy.
“By sharing the load, we lighten the load.”
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will also face cuts of $3.3m over four years. A 2.5% efficiency dividend, which applies to most government agencies, will also have an impact on the media watchdog.
Online safety has been awarded $10m, with $2.4m of this funding to establish a Children’s e-Safety Commissioner.
Full statement from the Minister for Communications:
“The ABC and SBS are an important part of our national life. The Government wants to ensure a strong, healthy, and resilient public broadcasting sector that efficiently uses taxpayers' money.
The Government earlier this year instituted an Efficiency Study, to review ABC and SBS operations. This was to ensure they run their organisations as efficiently and cost effectively as possible without impacting on the quality and range of programming.
The 2014–15 Commonwealth Budget includes a one per cent saving on base funding as a down-payment on back office savings identified and being considered by the Government and the public broadcasters over the coming months.
This budget measure does not constitute an ongoing efficiency dividend on the ABC and SBS. The exact implementation of the savings arising from this measure will be determined by the boards and executives of the national broadcasters.
By sharing the load, we lighten the load.
The Government is determined to repair the Budget so that we can build a stronger economy. All government bodies must play a part in achieving that goal.
The Government is confident the broadcasters can improve work practices and operate more efficiently in their day-to-day operations.
Critically, the Government expects those efficiencies can be achieved without cutting their diverse range of programs and services or affecting their editorial independence.