Australian public broadcasters the ABC and SBS are “expected” to receive 6 per cent less funding from taxpayers over the next four years, according to 2021 Federal Budget papers.
The announcement by Treasury, which accompanied the news the ABC and SBS’ funding will drop by 0.8 per cent in 2021–22, came despite the assumption the “indexation freeze” on the ABC’s operational budget will end in 2022.
Introduced in 2018, the indexation freeze fixed the ABC’s budget to 2018–19 levels until 2021–22. Guardian Australia previously noted that, since the Coalition came to power in 2014, the ABC has lost $783m in funding.
According to Federal Budget papers, the decision to again reduce funding for Australia’s public broadcasters is “partially offset” by additional funding announced in the Budget measure ‘Media Sector Support’, which, overall, includes $58.6 million over four years for the media sector.
The Australian Associated Press was allocated $15m over two years from this funding.
Since its near closure by previous shareholders, AAP has become a not-for-profit operation with support from those who “recognise the need to preserve its critical role as a trusted supplier of fact-based news, without commercial or political influence,” the wire service said in a statement.
“In the context of AAP’s exclusion from the Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, this grant will help underpin the AAP newswire on its path to sustainability,” AAP chief executive Emma Cowdroy said in a statement.
“The AAP newswire is an essential part of our democratic infrastructure. Supporting the national newswire means supporting the industry as a whole.”
AAP chair Jonty Low added that, by supporting AAP, the government is supporting a key pillar of Australia’s media diversity.
Other components of the $58.6m going towards the media includes $8m over two years for the Community Broadcasting Foundation through the Community Broadcasting Program, and $4.2m over three years towards the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
These latter funds will go towards supporting the implementation of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, according to the budget papers.
Furthermore, $11.9m of additional taxpayer funds over four years from 2021–22 will go towards children’s television, to support the development and distribution of quality Australian children’s content, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a statement.
Featured image source: iStock/kokkai
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