2014-11-19 12:30:40 Releases

The announcement today that upwards of $300 million in funding will be cut from the ABC and SBS over the next five years confirms the worst fears of staff and the community.

On the eve of the last election the Abbott Government promised the Australian public that funding to both broadcasters would be protected.

These cuts to the ABC ($254 million) and SBS ($25 million) come at a time when the broadcasters are doing more with their budgets than ever before, across more platforms, and are struggling to meet the demands and cost pressures of a media space being dramatically transformed by digital technology.

There will be hundreds of jobs lost across the organisations. Despite what the Government may say, it is evident that cuts of this magnitude must have an effect on programming.

Both ABC and SBS have a legislated obligation to tell Australian stories, to provide relevant and local coverage to all communities, to enrich our national cultural life, and to provide balance, accuracy and independence to our national debate – regardless of geographic location.

Up until now, these decisions on funding have been made behind closed doors.

We are yet to see the Lewis Review.

What is needed now is transparency. The Lewis Review should immediately be released, and the boards and management of both broadcasters need to consult with staff, with unions and with the communities they serve about how these cuts should be managed.

The staff of our public broadcasters have a wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience which must be utilised to minimise the impact of the cuts and to build on the proud tradition of public broadcasting on which generations of Australians have relied, and will continue to rely on in the future.

Management has refused to engage on these issues. The time to do so has well and truly come.

Consultation needs to be meaningful and must commence immediately.