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Australian government ends ABC funding freeze

The Australian government will end a decision to freeze millions of dollars of ABC funding as it pours billions of dollars into the national broadcaster over the next three years.

From July, the ABC will receive almost A$3.3 billion (US$2.3 billion) over three years, while broadcaster SBS will receive more than A$950 million, ABC News reports.

As part of that funding, the government has decided to end its controversial decision to impose an indexation freeze on the ABC’s annual funding in 2018 which meant the broadcaster’s funding did not keep pace with inflation.

The ABC said the freeze amounted to a budget cut of about A$84 million, forcing it to slash 250 jobs and cut back programming.

The government’s latest move has prompted accusations from the opposition Labor Party that the government is trying to neutralise a political headache ahead of the upcoming election.

ABC Managing Director David Anderson said the announcement brought funding certainty to the national broadcaster.

“The triennial funding announcement is an important recognition that the ABC is needed now more than ever, and this funding is required so it can continue to its vital role in our democratic society,” he said.

ABC Chair Ita Buttrose echoed that sentiment, saying she was “delighted”.

“It will allow the national broadcaster to continue doing what it does best — provide information and entertainment to Australians wherever they live,” she said.

The Labor Party has already begun pushing the nation’s broadcasters into its election pitch to voters, promising to provide greater funding certainty for the ABC and SBS if elected.