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Australian public broadcasters get boost in government’s budget

Both of Austraia’s national public broadcasting networks have received additional funding in their federal government’s new budget measures, just announced.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) corporations are funded on a three-year basis, with their taxpayer allocation for the coming triennial period released in the Commonwealth Government’s May budget.

The ABC will get an extra AUD 89.6 million (USD 85 million) over three years to build upon the ABC’s news and current affairs services and for online content distribution. They will also be able to access a  loan of AUD 90 million (USD 85.5 million) to consolidate its Melbourne operations in new premises.

SBS – Australia’s multicultural and multilingual TV and radio network – will get an extra USD 20 million (USD 19 million) for its general programming.

The ABC’s managing director Mark Scott has welcomed the extra funding.

“This investment acknowledges two of the prime areas where the ABC is using its digital expertise to deliver on its Charter obligations to inform, educate and entertain Australians,” he said.

The funding will enable the ABC to extend and enhance its coverage in a converged media environment. Mr Scott said that the ABC News Division had restructured its operations to provide better commissioning and delivery of stories. Through additional funding received in February, it was recruiting more journalists, creating a new fact-checking unit, establishing new metropolitan reporting teams and increasing its focus on regional and local news.

This additional funding would allow the ABC to pursue more state-based current affairs, extend its flagship current affairs programs and create more cross-platform news content for audiences.

SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid said his extra funding would enable SBS to continue to deliver on its Charter obligations.

“It is recognition by the Federal Government that in today’s increasingly diverse communities, SBS has a continuing and vital role to play in contributing to social cohesion, and to Australia’s success as a migrant nation,” Mr Ebeid said.

He said the additional money would also allow SBS to continue broadcasting in 74 languages on radio.

The ABC receives almost AUD 1 billion (USD 950 million) a year from the Australian taxpayers to run its multiple radio, television and online networks, while SBS receives almost AUD 250 million (USD 237 million) to run its multicultural TV and radio channels and a national Indigenous television channel.