ABC has ‘not had confirmation’ on $200m cuts as unions start week of action in protest

Richard FinlaysonThe ABC’s director of television Richard Finlayson says that the ABC and SBS have not been informed of the size of proposed federal government cuts which could strip $200m-$300m from the public broadcasters over five years.

Asked about a story on the proposed cuts in Fairfax Media this afternoon Finlayson told Mumbrella: “I have seen the story and this is all just speculation and we have had no official confirmation, as yet, to the scale of the cuts we will be receiving.”

The move comes as the two unions representing staff at the ABC and SBS, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) and the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) moved to mobilise a public campaign against the cuts with a National Week of Action starting November 18.

The campaign will see federal opposition leader Bill Shorten, Labor politicians and leaders from the Australian arts and journalism communities join forces to launch a campaign aimed at demonstrating the strength of public opposition to the funding cuts.

“Before the election we were promised no cuts to the ABC. It’s proven to be a promise betrayed. We’ve already seen cuts, the axing of ABC international and talented and experienced staff forced into redundancy. Now the Government wants to cut even deeper and harder with up to $100m in cuts, outsourcing and the axing of internal production planned, all of which will drastically reduce the ABC’s capacity to respond to changing technology and audience demands. We must oppose these cuts,” said CPSU national president Michael Tull.

“For years, it has been abundantly clear that the ABC is an efficiently run public institution,” said Chris Warren, federal secretary of the MEAA.

“With an 84 per cent approval rating according to surveys by Essential Media, it is also a much-loved Australian institution. Now the ABC is being forced to take a knife to its operations and hack away at content and services.

“The casualties from this aren’t just the ABC jobs that are lost – audiences are being punished because of a government diktat to extract cash from the ABC. There is no public support for this decision.”

ABCThe CPSU and MEAA said the Our stories Our Future Our ABC campaign would aim to give the Australian public an opportunity to celebrate their public broadcaster and to voice their concerns about the Government’s brutal cuts.

The ABC Board in its recent ABC annual report, criticised the government for breaching pre-election statements by Prime Minister Tony Abbott not to cut funding to the public broadcaster and declare that it is satisfied that the ABC provides “value for money to Australians”.

A spokesman for the communications minister declined to comment on the reports or whether the rumoured cuts had been before cabinet.

Nic Christensen 


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