As reported on B&T yesterday, the ABC was spared any further cuts following Tuesday’s Budget.
However, the public broadcaster’s acting managing director, David Anderson, has warned that the decision will lead to staff cuts and poorer services and programming.
In a statement to staff posted on the ABC’s website, Anderson said that “tough decisions” would have to be made in light of no extra taxpayer dollars.
“On the negative side, despite extensive requests from the ABC, the budget papers have locked in the $83.7 million pause in indexation funding flagged in last year’s budget,” Anderson said.
“This is on top of the $254 million the ABC has had to absorb in efficiency cuts over the past five years.
“Given our tight fiscal envelope, meeting the costs will have to involve tough decisions on staffing and services.
“Our commitment is to consult with staff in considering options. I will keep you informed on this front,” Anderson said.
Presently, the ABC employs 4,180 people, however, the government believes this is 50 more than is required.
Already the ABC is looking like one of the key battlegrounds in the upcoming federal election.
Labor has readily complained that the government has repeatedly cut its budgets (when it said it wouldn’t) and meddled in management and programming.
Yesterday, two senior Labor politicians – Michelle Rowland and Kristina Keneally – issued a joint statement that read: “They’ve [the government] ripped hundreds of millions of dollars out of the ABC, meddled in its affairs and launched relentless ideological attacks on public broadcasting,” the statement said.
“Whatever the government may announce for the ABC in the last six weeks before the election, they can’t erase what they’ve done to the ABC over the last six years.
“The evidence is clear: you can have a strong and independent ABC, or a Liberal government. You can’t have both.”