ABC Friends News

Funding Threat – No Guarantee for News

Funding runs out at the end of this financial year for the ABC’s “Enhanced Newsgathering Initiative,” leaving the public broadcaster to, again, have to appeal for crucial funding from a hostile government.

The news-gathering programme, which was funded especially to boost local and outer-suburban news content and has seen reporters “embedded” in outer suburbs, was set up under the Rudd government in 2013 and has cost $14.8 million.

But this tied funding is by no means permanent, which has left the ABC to have to ask the government to continue funding it.

The impact the fund has had in the communities it has served is demonstrable, as is illustrated by the swathe of awards that have resulted.

The ABC Managing Director, David Anderson, recently spoke about the fund in Senate Estimates hearings.

He said:

We’ll be advocating for that to be extended and certainly rolled into our base.

As it’s been there for nine years, it provides for good work and we want to see it continue. 

Otherwise, it’s a problem for the ABC.

$14.8 million doesn’t just disappear without some impact to employment and services of some degree.

The impact such a cut would have on services is profound and demonstrable.

It is estimated that upwards of 12,000 local and suburban stories are generated per annum across all platforms as a direct result of this funding. 

This localised tied investment assisted in contributing towards 300 local journalism awards throughout the 2013-2020 period.  


Victoria has benefitted from the establishment of the first Geelong Bureau.

A case study: Apollo Bay was on brink of a healthcare crisis due to lack of housing.

Why it matters:  This is a great example of local original storytelling from the Geelong bureau. It’s a local story with broad appeal, covering an issue that is being felt by many coastal communities post-Covid.

Victorian town of Apollo Bay on brink of healthcare crisis due to lack of housing

Also, another example from the Surf Coast that was funded by the enhanced news-gathering programme:

Torquay is having a property boom, but the Karaaf Wetlands on Victoria’s Surf Coast is under threat