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ABC need not sell inner city offices, Australian minister says

Australia’s new Communications Minister, Michelle Rowland, has dismissed calls for the national broadcaster, the ABC, to move from its inner-city offices in Sydney and Melbourne.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, she said the ABC was meeting its charter obligations to reflect all Australians and did not need to move from the city centres.

Ms Rowland’s predecessor, Paul Fletcher, had urged the broadcaster to consider selling its capital city offices in areas such as Sydney’s Ultimo and Melbourne’s Southbank and moving to “purpose-built” facilities elsewhere, partly as a cost-saving measure.

Ms Rowland also said she was considering a thorough review of the 30-year-old legislation that governs the broadcasting sector, to make it more relevant in an era of social media and streaming.

“The key issue here is that we still have an analogue environment for the digital age. We’ve got a Broadcasting Services Act that’s dated 1992.”

The act was updated in 2017 under former Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, who passed a bill to relax media ownership laws, change local programming obligations and remove television and radio licence fees.