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Australia’s public broadcasters face budget cuts

A total of AUD $308 million will be cut from the budgets of ABC and SBS over the next five years.

According to a statement from the country’s Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the cuts would mean ABC and SBS will “eliminate inefficiencies in their back office operations ensuring they deliver Australians even better value.”

ABC’s budget over the next five years has been reduced by 4.6 percent. SBS’s will be reduced by 1.7 percent. To enable SBS to recoup these cuts, a legislative change will be implemented to enable the broadcaster to increase the amount of ad time it can sell, so its new budget will be A$1.39 billion, down from A$1.44 billion.

“The Government’s highest priority is to repair the Budget and build a stronger and more prosperous economy,” the Minister’s statement said. “The ABC and SBS have been asked, like all other government agencies, to contribute to this effort.”

It continued, “ABC and SBS can reduce costs and modernize their businesses, learning from other broadcasters’ practices in adjusting to rapidly changing technology and unprecedented structural change across the media sector. The Government is confident that these savings can be achieved without affecting the diverse range and quality of programs provided by the ABC or SBS. Suggestions that popular programs or services are at risk because of budget savings are not credible.”

Australia’s commercial broadcasters have expressed their dissatisfaction with the increase in SBS’s ad limits to 10 minutes per hour. Industry body Free TV Australia issued a statement warning that the move will have “a direct impact on the continued production of quality Australian content.”