ABC to face ‘$50m cuts’ claims Media Watch as Turnbull plays down impact

Government cuts to the ABC are set to see a further 6 per cent wiped form its budget, taking around $50m per year further from the public broadcaster’s coffers with between 4-500 jobs set to go.

The claims were made on the broadcaster’s Media Watch show last night, with host Paul Barry saying with the loss of the Australia Network and other cuts already made it means a loss of around 9 per cent of the budget.

However speaking on Q&A immediately afterwards Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull sought to downplay the cuts, saying they would be closer to “5 per cent”.

Barry said ABC 2 and 3 would be saved, whilst Radio National will have cuts limited to 2 per cent, however the state-based 7.30 shows on Fridays are going, whilst Lateline will be “cut back, but it stays on the main channel”.

On top of that news bureaus in Tokyo, Bangkok, New Delhi and New Zealand will “be crunched with a claimed loss of 20 jobs” and TV production in South Australia outside of news and current affairs will be “shut down” with Classic FM set to take big cuts as $6m is cut from radio.

Barry said the ABC claimed most of the cuts would come from back office functions, “but once that money is returned to Canberra the ABC will have nothing left to invest in an audience that is changing rapidly”.

Management is expected to formally announce where the cuts will come in an address to staff later this week. Last week the broadcaster postponed its Christmas party for the TV division slated for Thursday as management expected to make an announcement on that day.

Speaking on Q&A Turnbull said the cuts would “average over five years about five per cent off the top, that includes everything since the budget” but said it does not include the cancellation of the Australia Network contract.

He added “anyone who cannot find five per cent out of efficiencies is not even trying”.

The ABC declined to comment on the scale of cuts, but the announcement is expected later this week.

Last week the ABC revealed its 2015 programming line up which included a number of new and returning shows.

As part of that announcement it was revealed the iView player will make content no longer available for streaming available for purchase via iTunes opening up a new revenue stream.

Alex Hayes


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.