Labor — what can the ABC expect?

The Prime Minister will sit down with Ita Buttrose and other ABC luminaries later this week amid hopes Labor will increase its commitment to the public broadcaster.

However, there are no indications yet that Anthony Albanese will make any announcement at the ABC 90th anniversary event in Sydney.

Many ABC Friends had hoped that the ALP would have gone to the election with a promise to restore funding to something like it was before Tony Abbott was elected.

But while that wasn’t forthcoming, Labor is still promising some huge improvements to the ABC’s situation.

For instance, in a move designed to remove some of the politicking over the ABC budget, the ALP says it will change the ABC’s funding terms from every three years to every five years.

Anthony Albanese argues that the new funding arrangement is essential to “bolster the independence and stability” of the ABC, and to “guard against political interference.”

In a statement, the Prime Minister said:

Increased funding certainty outside the electoral cycle will improve the capacity of the national broadcasters to innovate as well as plan with the diverse ecosystems they support, including across education, screen production and international broadcasting.

Under the Coalition, the ABC lost $526m in funding, resulting in the loss of 640 jobs.

READ THE ALP POLICY DOCUMENT

Labor has also told the ABC it will restore the most recent Coalition cuts, which amounted to almost $84m in core funding.

READ A RECENT GUARDIAN REPORT ABOUT ABC FUNDING

There are also indications that a special fund to support reporting in regional areas, which is also funded over three-year terms, will be maintained.

The special $44m “enhanced newsgathering fund” was established under a Labor government and was continued by the coalition over successive budgets.

The program bolsters funding for regional and outer-suburban news gathering, national reporting teams and state-based digital news.

The Labor Party has also promised increased funding for overseas broadcasting to the tune of $8m per year, though it is unclear if this will be enough to resurrect the Australia Network TV service that was axed by Tony Abbott.

It also says it will expand media capacity training in Pacific nations and maintain one year of funding for Free TV Australia to continue to deliver Australian content to broadcasters in the Pacific.

In the run-up to this year’s federal election, the Coalition acted to appease its critics by backed down from some of its previous cutbacks.

The then Communications Minster, Paul Fletcher, said that a crippling funding indexation pause would be scrapped, that the enhanced newsgathering fund would continue, and that there would be ongoing support for audio description services for the visually impaired.

But it must be said that that was a Coalition pre-election promise—and we have seen in the past that senior Liberals have not kept their promises about the ABC.