As co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of the ABC, I am a strong and enthusiastic supporter of our national broadcaster.
I have engaged closely with senior management for more than a decade and successfully encouraged the ABC to grow its footprint in regional areas.
The Australian Government recognises the importance of the ABC. It provides innovative and comprehensive broadcasting services which contribute to a sense of national identity, informs and entertains audiences, and reflects the cultural diversity of the Australian community.
The ABC does an excellent job transmitting emergency information to Australian communities, as we have seen during times of natural disaster. We know many Australians, particularly in regional Australia, turn to their local ABC radio for up-to-date and vital information.
In Gippsland, our local ABC Radio team did an exceptional job to advise residents and visitors of impending fire threats throughout the Black Summer. The ability for locals to call in with up to date information assisted residents to make good decisions and keep their families safe.
We have benefited locally from an investment in new equipment and improved studio facilities which has allowed our Gippsland news team to tell the stories of our region to a broader audience.
The Government has locked in committed and growing funding of $4.2 billion for the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) over the period from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2025.
This funding will allow the ABC and SBS to continue to provide innovative, comprehensive and high quality television, radio and digital media services to all Australians.
This funding represents an increase in funding for both national broadcasters against the 2016-19 and 2019-22 triennia, and is a total funding increase in real terms.
The ABC and SBS are essential components of Australia’s diverse media landscape.
This funding is designed to provide certainty for both broadcasters and is being announced well in advance of the next funding period to assist the ABC and SBS to develop their forward plans.
The ABC will receive $3,284.9 million over the next three years. This includes $45.8 million for the Enhanced News Gathering program to strengthen local public interest journalism in regional communities.
The ABC will also see a return of indexation on base operational funding as outlined in the May 2021 Budget papers.
The SBS will receive $953.7 million over the next three years, including an additional $37.5 million in ongoing funding to support its long-term sustainability.
The ABC and SBS will receive $3 million each in funding to support the continuation and expansion of audio description services to blind and vision impaired Australians.
The Minister for Communications has written to the ABC and SBS outlining their three-year funding packages, and also issued Statements of Expectations to both broadcasters regarding reporting by the two organisations in relation to a number of their key activities. These include a new National Broadcasters Reporting Framework for Australian Content and, in the case of the ABC, its rural and regional activities.
Reporting publicly on these matters will help build public confidence in the work the ABC and SBS do.
The content and operational independence of the ABC is enshrined in legislation. Parliament has guaranteed this independence so that the ABC’s decisions are free of political interference. Under this arrangement, how the ABC spends the money allocated to it is a matter for ABC Board and Management.
Rest assured, I will continue to take an active interest in the ABC’s future.