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Issue #1645      July, 2, 2014

Cost-cutting review of ABC must become public

“Leaks from Minister Turnbull’s cost-cutting review of the ABC are alarming,” said Glenys Stradijot, ABC Friends national spokesperson. “The type of broadcaster envisaged by the review is privatisation of the ABC.

“It breaks two Coalition pre-election promises: its promise not to cut the ABC and its promise not to privatise the ABC.

“Independent surveys regularly reveal how highly Australians trust and value the public broadcaster.

“The community will not accept the ABC becoming merely a platform for programs produced by the same private production companies that make content for commercial television.

“They will not accept the operations of the ABC being even more centralised in Sydney. The ABC is meant to be a ‘national’ broadcaster.”

The government’s review puts in place the means to outsource most of the national broadcaster’s programs. These include Play School and At the Movies. it also includes increased centralisation of operations in Sydney.

The ABC has a long-time process of “build and own” for program production. The review wants to axe an ABC decision to build new television production studios at its Southbank headquarters.

Michael Tull, president of the Community and Public Sector Union, said the proposals would “sound the death knell for the ABC’s distinctive Australian voice.

“If that in-house capacity goes then Australia can say goodbye to the great dramas and edgy comedies which are such a central part of who we are.”

The ABC and SBS would also share headquarters, something former prime minister Malcolm Fraser warned would be the “death” of SBS.

Glenys Stradijot said: “Australians are entitled to know what is being considered for their national public broadcaster.

“Full details of the cost-cutting review must immediately be made public.

She also questioned if Minister Turnbull needs to explain why his appointee to head the review, Peter Lewis, does not have a conflict of interest.

Peter Lewis previously held senior positions with Seven West Media. After having been given access to confidential information about the internal operations of the ABC and developing recommendations for its future, he is soon to commence a position as chief financial officer for another major commercial competitor to the ABC.

Next article – Is the US ready to trigger war in Asia?

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