One day after Prime Minister Tony Abbott publicly criticised the ABC for not painting a rose-coloured view of Australia in its news coverage, the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull has announced an “efficiency study” across both national broadcasters, ABC and SBS.
The study, due to begin next month, is described as being within the Minister’s responsibilities for ensuring that the broadcasters are using public resources as efficiently as possible:
“The study will examine costs for the day-to-day operations which deliver ABC and SBS programs, products and services, and propose options to increase efficiency and reduce expense. The objective is to ensure ABC and SBS fulfil their Charter responsibilities at least cost to the community, and keep pace with rapidly changing practices in the broadcasting sector.”
Mr Turnbull says the study is not intended to review, direct or scruitinise program content or editorial:
“I’ve said again and again that I believe the ABC is a vitally important part of our nation’s polity; it is one of the great foundations of journalism and news gathering and broadcasting in the country.
“It has a very special place in Australia, in particular because it has a statutory obligation to be at all times objective and balanced and fair and accurate in its news and current affairs.”
Peter Lewis, formerly Chief Financial Officer of Seven West Media, will assist the review and both ABC and SBS have pledged their co-operation.
The report arising from the study will be provided to the Minister and the Chairs of the ABC and SBS on completion, due for April.
The Abbott Government is also reported to have its sights on scrapping the $223 million contract to the ABC for providing the Government’s Asia Pacific television service, Australia Network. The suggestion has been criticised by Acting Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, as a “tit-for-tat” strategy by the Government and the breaking of a pre-election promise by Tony Abbott that there would be no budget cuts to ABC and SBS.
In 2011 the former Gillard Government awarded the Australia Network contract to ABC although Ms Gillard’s predecessor Kevin Rudd had earlier recommended the contract go to rival bidder Sky News.
Source: Malcolm Turnbull MP, ABC, SBS, The Age, The Australian
While I don’t believe the ABC deserves to be targeted in such a fashion, simply for “reporting the news”, there is one comment that should be made about SBS, and that is airing of advertisements, in violation of its licence, which is the same category as the ABC, Category A-National! I use the word “category here because the word “class” implies a quality not always present in the programming of SBS or ABC. Even though it violates the conditions of the licence, SBS was only allowed 5 minutes per hour for advertising content. A typical 1-hour show actually only ran for(average) 46 minutes, leaving 14 minutes free for “non-programme content”(ads, promos, station identification or news flashes), which meant that shows could run uninterrupted. As far as I’m aware, that 5-minute limit STILL APPLIES! So SBS should NOT be allowed to cut in to programme time to run any number of ads or other non-programme content.
you may find their licence has changed