Tax cuts prove a winner in federal budget coverage

The federal government’s promises of tax cuts were a winner with journalists covering the 2019 budget announcements in Canberra.

An analysis of media coverage by media monitoring service Streem, found ‘tax cuts’ beat the terms ‘road/rail’, surplus and ‘small business’ in budget reports across TV, print, radio and online reports up until 9am the following morning.

Of the TV coverage, the ABC dominated budget reporting with over a thousand mentions, well ahead of Nine’s 822 and Seven’s 782. The SBS managed 45 mentions of the federal budget over the period.

For commentary on the budget, journalists turned mainly to the financial institutions with the CBA being the most relied upon expert source. Deloitte were the exception with its talking heads being the second most used source with 47 mentions during the budget coverage.

As expected, the government took the lion’s share of reporting on the budget taking up 60% of press mentions while Labor had 38%. The minor parties 2% of the mentions were dominated by The Greens’ reactions to the government’s plans.

However the Streem analysis highlighted most of the media overlooked that the government’s claim it would take the budget into surplus was only a forecast, not a fact.

Conal Hanna, Media & Partnerships Lead of Streem, said of the company’s findings: “The budget is obviously one of the big ticket items on the politics calendar.

“Striking is how different a perception audiences will likely have of it, based on what media they consume.

“For example, Leigh Sales on ABC made a point of grilling Josh Frydenberg about the fact the announced surplus was still only a forecast. We’re not ‘back in the black’ just yet.

“And yet you wouldn’t necessarily have any awareness of that if you relied on  many other media reports for your information.”


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