Federal government launches ABC and SBS efficiency review

The Turnbull Government has commenced its efficiency review of the ABC and SBS announced in this year’s federal Budget.

Led by former Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh and ACMA head Richard Bean, the review is taking place alongside an inquiry into the broadcasters’ competitive neutrality and is due to report in October 2018.

Former Foxtel boss Peter Tonagh will co-chair the review into the ABC and SBS

The review will examine the current operations of the ABC and SBS,and make recommendations on areas where greater efficiencies can be found.

In the terms of reference released today the government made clear it was not planning any ownership changes to the two organisations, saying: “The Government will not merge or otherwise change the ownership arrangements of the ABC and SBS.

“Efficiency options will be consistent with ABC and SBS continuing as distinct corporate entities in public hands and under separate legislation.”

The statement follows the government being forced to deny in July that it planned to sell the ABC after the Liberal Party federal council voted for the privatisation of the public broadcaster.

Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield, said the review would support the organisations to identify best public broadcasting practice: “The ABC and SBS are vital public news and cultural institutions that are an important underpinning of media diversity and represent a major Commonwealth contribution to civic journalism.”

“In the fast-evolving world of media organisations, it is important to support our public broadcasters to be the best possible stewards of taxpayer dollars in undertaking their important work for the community.”

“The review will assist the public broadcasters as they approach the next funding triennium through which more than $3.9 billion will be provided from July 2019.”

An SBS spokesperson said: “The Efficiency Review is another opportunity for SBS to demonstrate that it has a long-ingrained culture of efficiency and maximising the value of its unique services to the Australian community.

“Just as SBS is participating in the current Competitive Neutrality review, we will participate in this latest efficiency review noting the Lewis Efficiency Study in 2014 found that SBS is an extremely efficient and effective organisation.

“We are fully confident that this review will yet again demonstrate the efficiency of SBS, and we remain committed to demonstrating our value to the Australian community.”


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