As the winds of change swirl about the government’s budget announcement in a few days, and some stiff cuts already leaked to the media has set the “suckling” herd into stampede mode.
The halcyon days of Labor’s largess spread among its devoted darlings has injected fear into the coffee clutches of many ABC departments as reality looms inevitable.
Cuts to ABC’s Australia Network ‘cannot be justified on performance’, says division head Lynley Marshall
The Abbott government is expected to scrap funding for the international broadcasting service in next Tuesday’s budget following a cabinet decision on Wednesday.
The ABC has a 10-year, $223 million contract to run the network, which broadcasts to more than 44 countries in the Asia Pacific.
The ABC, which is finalising new partnership deals with Chinese and Indonesian broadcasters, has been lobbying publicly and privately for the government to continue to fund the service.
“Until we hear a formal announcement from government we will not know exactly what the impact on funding is,” ABC International CEO Lynley Marshall said in an email to ABC international and Asia-Pacific staff on Friday. “But let’s be clear – any decision to cut funding to the Australia Network cannot be justified on the basis of performance.
“Growth in Australia Network audiences continues. Overall the results being achieved by our International Converged Media service are unequivocal, backed by hard data and evidence and these results have been delivered through your efforts.”
The Commission of Audit recommended the network be scrapped in its report earlier this month because it is too expensive “given its limited outreach to a small audience”.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who has oversight of the network, has said there are more cost-effective ways, including social media, to promote Australia abroad.
In late 2011 the Gillard government controversially terminated the tender process for the Australia Network and handed the contract to the ABC in perpetuity.
An independent panel had twice recommended commercial operator Sky News be awarded the contract.