Australian news, and some related international items

The Liberal coalition government killing the ABC by 1000 cuts – but a possible way exists to save it

With luck the ABC can be saved , Crispin Hull, 8 May 20,    This week’s report on ABC funding should alarm Australians.

The death by a thousand cuts of the ABC and the slow strangulation of Medicare have become woven into in Liberal Party’s DNA since John Howard turned Robert Menzies’ broad church of a liberal-conservative Liberal Party into a purely conservative one by shutting out almost everyone left of the nave.

A different liberal-conservative Liberal Party, on the other hand, would have recognised them as essential Australian institutions to be nurtured and supported. After all, the ABC has been around since 1932 and Medicare (in one form or another) since 1973.

The Liberal Party’s desired outright abolition of both has been impossible because of the two institutions’ ingrained popularity. So the onslaught has to be cunningly dressed up as measures to “improve” Medicare and to voice support for the independence of the ABC and promise “no cuts” while ever trying to bully the ABC; sway its board to the right; and to apply cuts to stifle its voice.

This week’s report by the independent think tank Per Capita says that the ABC has lost $783 million in funding since the Coalition came to power in 2013, starting with $245 million in the 2014 Budget, despite Tony Abbott’s promise before the 2013 election that he would not cut the ABC.

More cuts in staff and programming will come before the end of this financial year. They follow seven years of program and staff slashing, critically a 50 per cent cut in the hours of scripted Australian drama.

The Per Capita report concludes that real funding per year since 1985-86 is down 30 per cent or $370 million. Per head of population, the ABC’s funding has been halved in that time. The cuts have come despite the ABC having to provide extra services to keep up with the digital age.

Very likely the Government will cut more as it seeks to claw back from the Covid-19 crisis, even though the ABC – especially the excellent Dr Norman Swan – did so much to inform Australians about the pandemic, as it always does in times of crisis.

What can be done? The ABC itself is down to the bone, though perhaps it could cut out all sport which the commercials to well enough. It is doubtful a Coalition Government would ever increase real funding for the ABC. Perhaps the best we can hope for is that Labor makes some suggestions that the Coalition feels obliged to match or that they become reality with a Labor Government (whenever that might be). ……..

funding solution used in Britain, New Zealand, and only Western Australia among the Australian states to fund culture which could help fund the ABC – a lottery. The Federal Government should set up its own national lottery to boost ABC funding……..

The BBC is well-funded and broadcasters throughout the world line up to pay for its product. The result is a lot of soft-power dividend for Britain. Australia, too, would get a lot of benefit from properly funding the ABC, not least a better-informed community.

Silly me. It’s that last bit the Coalition detests more than anything.

May 9, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: