2014-04-17 11:38:14 Releases

Actors Equity is calling on the Abbott Government to honour its pre-election promise not to cut ABC funding.

“Talk of proposed efficiency cuts that could amount to half the drama budget of the ABC is disturbing. History has shown that drama and children’s programming are the most vulnerable and whenever the ABC is cut these are the first areas to suffer”, says Equity director Sue McCreadie.

Performers were at the forefront of a successful campaign to restore funding for ABC drama after deep cuts in the early years of the Howard Government. The campaign culminated in an additional $70 million over three years to the ABC for local drama.

“The ABC has been able to lift its first run Australian drama hours to 114 hours over the past two years compared to a low of seven hours in 2006/07,” said McCreadie.

“ABC drama has subsequently enjoyed a remarkable renaissance with some of the most popular drama shows on Australian television”.

Recent reports suggest that a 2.25% efficiency dividend would reduce the ABC’s budget by $22.5m in the first year.  The additional funds provided for drama have been not been quarantined and ABC managing director Mark Scott has stated that if there are cuts no services can be spared.

“The ABC is the undisputed leader in children’s programming and comedy series. The ABC has also been the leader in the digital delivery of content with its immensely popular i-view service,” said McCreadie.  “Cutting these successful areas has nothing to do with efficiency”.

The ABC’s output in this period has included dramas such as Redfern Now, Rake, The Broken Shore and the Jack Irish telemovies, comedies such as The Moody’s and Upper Middle Bogan and children’s programming such as Dance Academy and Nowhere Boys.

“The bottom line is that, while the ABC needs to make sure drama and children’s programming are not first in the firing line, the Government needs to honour its pre-election promise to maintain ABC funding” said McCreadie.