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ABC faces funding cuts, Australia Network to close down

The Australian public broadcaster ABC’s budget will be cut by $120m over the next four years and its international service Australia Network will close, the country’s Federal Government announced in its first budget this week.

Operational funding cuts of close to AUD $40million over four years will come on top of the termination of the $220 million contract to deliver the international broadcasting service, Australia Network.

The ABC’s Managing Director, Mark Scott said while the ABC would look to make its operations more efficient, the funding cuts would inevitably result in redundancies and a reduction in services. The ABC Board and Executive would need time to work out the full impact and to review strategies and internal budgets. 

Mr Scott added the decision to cut the funding for Australia Network was very disappointing, given the ABC was only one year into a 10-year contract with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“Countries around the world are expanding their international broadcasting services as key instruments of public diplomacy. The ABC had negotiated a detailed strategy with DFAT to develop relationships with major broadcasters in the region and to target locals likely to trade, study in or travel to Australia. This partnership had resulted in expanded audiences in key markets and was on track to deliver all agreed targets.

Mr Scott said the ABC Board would now have to examine how the ABC delivers its international Charter obligation, which requires it to broadcast programs that, among other things, “encourage awareness of Australia and an international understanding of Australian attitudes on world affairs”.

“The task ahead will be extremely challenging for ABC management and staff,” Mr Scott said.

“We will need to make funding cuts, while trying to also save money to invest in new priorities to ensure the ABC remains a compelling feature of the Australian media landscape – a public broadcaster in the digital era.”