“We think it should be us”, ABC managing director David Anderson (pictured) told the government, after FreeTV Australia won a $17 million contract to broadcast Australian content throughout the Pacific Islands.
The three-year deal was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in January, which will see the FreeTV Australia consortium made up of Nine Entertainment Co, Network Ten and Seven West Media bring 1,000 hours of content a year to broadcasters in the South Pacific.
Officially named ‘Amplifying Australia’s Voice’, the program aims to “promote Australia and our values and help balance an increasing regional media presence of other nations in our region”.
But it has now been revealed the ABC is supremely unhappy with being snubbed by the government for the deal.
“We think we’re best placed to expand any of those services through the Pacific region,” Anderson told the Communications Department, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed.
Anderson and the ABC argued the responsibility of promoting Australia’s regional presence falls within the national broadcaster’s charter obligations.
Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher argued the ABC “already broadcasts internationally, as per its charter”.
It’s another chapter in the increasingly frosty relationship between the ABC and the current government.
A three-year indexation freeze, announced in then-Treasurer Scott Morrison’s 2018 budget, kicked in on 1 July and will result in an $83.8million cut to funding for the national broadcaster.