Turnbull mocks the ABC
Malcolm Turnbull has derided the ABC’s warnings it may be forced to axe shows such as Lateline after threatening to can Peppa Pig earlier this year.
The Communications Minister said the ABC board and management know there is ample capacity to achieve substantial savings in back office and administrative costs without cutting programming budgets.
Turnbull branded the threat to Peppa Pig as a joke, stating on his website, “No government, no management would ever take on the 3 year olds of Australia (not to speak of their parents).”
The Minister defended the 1% reduction in the ABC’s base funding over the next four years in the May Budget as a necessary measure to reduce the federal deficit.
The efficiency review of the public broadcaster headed by Peter Lewis, which he commissioned, had identified savings through increased efficiencies and reduced expenses but made no recommendations on spending on programming.
“It is wrong to attempt to draw a link between budget cuts, back office savings and decisions made by management about programming,” he said.
“Suggestions that popular programs or services are at risk because of Budget savings are not credible. The savings sought from the ABC are not of a scale that will require reductions in program expenditure. The ABC may choose to cut programming rather than tackle – but that’s the ABC’s call.”
Decisions to drop or move a news program or not renew a Janet King were for the ABC board and management to make, not the government.
Noting the ABC was allocated $70 million over three years in 2013 to expand the depth and quality of its news and current affairs in the digital era, he said ABC viewers and staff have the right to question management on where this investment has been made.
Judging by quite a few of the comments posted on his website, some people do not find his arguments convincing.
"I seem to recall election campaign promises of no cuts. What does that do for your credibility Malcolm?" said one critic.
"So, money the ABC will be asked to save from its total budget allocation won't affect programming… even though programming comes under how the ABC allocates its overall budget," said another. "What a coherent argument."
One supporter said, "Great insight Malcolm. Since the ABC lives off the taxpayers' contributions they are removed from the financial reality that its competitors have to face, it's only fair that they also have to find savings like every other business and government department have to find."