Budget 2018: More bad news for ABC, major advertising campaigns on the horizon and ACMA asset sold off

A slew of advertising campaigns, cuts to the ABC and a boost for the local screen production industry are the notable items for the media and marketing industries in last night’s Federal Budget.

Unlike last year’s Budget, which saw the promise of major infrastructure advertising, cuts to skilled worker visas and Screen Australia’s funding being slashed, 2018 sees a mishmash of marketing spending as the government gears up for a Federal election.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison: Cuts for the ABC while giving a boost to the local film industry.

ABC’s budget cuts have attracted the fiercest criticism, as the government announced spending cuts of $84m over three years with a further $43 million taken from news and current affairs.

The news and current affairs announcement will end the government’s specific funding for the ABC’s news and current affairs division that saw the 2016 budget commit $41 million over three years.

In a terse statement, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie hit back at the government’s cuts, saying: “Stable, adequate funding is essential if we are to continue to deliver for Australian audiences.”

Guthrie also criticised the Treasurer’s claims the cuts would be recovered out of efficiency gains, pointing out the organisation had gone through a number of efficiency reviews in recent years.

On a brighter note for government broadcasters, the Treasurer announced $14.6m over two years to support SBS and $3m to support production and distribution of Australian film, television and radio content.

Another boost for the local film industry was the Government’s commitment to providing $140.0 million over four years to attract international investment through a competitive incentive program. The program will be in addition to the government’s existing location offset part of the Australian Screen Production Incentive tax rebate.

The government, which recently returned its master media buying account to UM.  also announced a range of advertising campaigns last night.

Leading the announcements was an $8.2m campaign to promote the government’s Better Ageing reforms that increase spending on services for older Australians. The reforms are expected to be a cornerstone of the Liberal Party’s re-election campaign due in the next 12 months.

Another big-ticket campaign will be an ongoing $6.3m per year for the Australian Defence Export Office to promote the nation’s defence export markets.

Education will also see a $6m marketing spend over two years to increase public awareness of changes to the government’s Quality Schools package.

Smaller ad spends include $1.2m for SANE Australia to deliver a targeted suicide awareness campaign, Better Off With You, and spending on a digital platform to commemorate the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s first voyage to Australia and the Pacific in 2020.

Pharmaceutical marketers will also get a boost from the government’s measures to increase the use of generic and biosimilar medicines with $5m over three years to continue the biosimilar medicines awareness campaign.

Along with the ABC, ACMA will also be a loser from the Budget, with the government announcing its high-frequency monitoring station in suburban Brisbane will be sold off.

Mushroom marketers will also be hit by the government announcing it will decrease the marketing component of the mushroom levy from $3.24 to $2.92 per kilogram of mushroom spawn, a move the Treasurer claimed was at the request of the Australian Mushroom Growers’ Association.


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