As was illustrated by our overwhelmingly successful election campaign, Australians are very concerned that major financial cutbacks to the ABC have resulted in the loss of professional staff and changes in programming.
In fact, every year our public broadcaster loses another $100m.
The “death by a thousand cuts” is ongoing and evident, particularly when it comes to Australian-produced programming outside of Sydney.
From drama to children’s programming to news and current affairs, jobs have been lost, and there has been a subsequent loss of quality and quantity at our country’s most important cultural institution.
ABC Friends National – the not-for-profit organisation that fights for a restoration of ABC funding and strengthening of its independence – also recognises that “Australia Plus,” as an international initiative, can indeed partner with commercial interests to promote Australian programmes.
However the apparent decision by the ABC to favour Monash University and one company in an international advertising deal on Australia Plus does require explanation.
For instance, did the ABC’s International Division, as part of the public service, call for tenders in this process?
What were the criteria?
How did the deal take place?
And why was an alternative therapies company, which has been the subject of some media conjecture, chosen over other Australian brands?
Will the next move be to change the ABC logo to look like it’s made of multivitamin capsules?
ABCFriends continually works to restore funding levels to the public broadcaster and understands the frustration of working with limited resources.
However this latest venture does not reassure us that ABC management has fully considered the impact of this decision on its reputation at home and internationally.Margaret Reynolds