This year’s Federal Budget may have been a boon for the business community, but the government has used it to ensure the ABC continues to suffer big losses.
By continuing its indexation freeze for another two years, the coalition government has ensured the public broadcaster loses tens of millions of dollars more.
The Guardian reports:
“The Morrison government has extended the ABC’s funding freeze beyond 2022.
According to the budget papers, the ABC’s operating budget drops from $880.6m in 2021-2022 to $866.5m in 2022-2023, which represents a 3.7% decrease in real terms from 2020-2021 to 2023-2024.
The ABC has already made significant cuts to staff and services after an $84m indexation freeze was announced in the 2018 budget.”
The indexation freeze dates back to 2018, when Malcolm Turnbull decided to impose cuts on the ABC in real terms by preventing funding from keeping pace with inflation.
According to a report in The Australian:
“The ABC is set to face ongoing cuts to its budget in real terms, with funding for broadcasting — which covers the national broadcaster and SBS — subject to a 0.7 per cent decrease in real terms from 2019-20 to 2020-21, and a 3.7 per cent decrease in real terms from 2020-21 to 2023-24.
By not being able to keep pace with the real costs of conducting business, the ABC is slipping backwards in real funding levels every year, and this will now continue until 2024 at the earliest.
It was this indexation freeze which led to the ABC announcing cuts to programming and 250 redundancies in June this year.
The ABC blamed the funding freeze for stripping $84 million from the budget in a year.
So, with the freeze continuing until 2022, the ABC and its supporters should brace for more cuts, more programme losses and more redundancies.
Meanwhile the ABC has issued a budget response, saying the $41m “enhanced news gathering” initiative grant has not been renewed:
“The Budget papers show ABC funding will fall below current levels in the next triennium because funding for the enhanced newsgathering initiative is due to expire at the end of 2021-22.
This program has been in place since 2013 and has previously been renewed twice by the Coalition Government.
The initiative has given the ABC the ability to deliver more tailored and local news to communities and to bring news from across the country to a national audience.”