The MEAA is awaiting a response from ABC managing director Mark Scott to its call for the broadcaster to minimise job losses resulting from the $120 million cut in funding over the next four years.
Officials from the MEAA and Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) have met with ABC management to seek information on how it plans to deal with the funding cut imposed in the budget, including axing the pan-Asian Australia Network.
“We are still waiting on management to give us a definitive response,” the MEAA said in a circular to its members.
MEAA noted comments made by Scott to a Senate Estimates hearing yesterday when he said: “The Australia Network impact will have an impact on news that can be seen locally but will not have direct impact on news created in Australia…We will lose some reporting positions in foreign bureaus on the back of the Australia Network decision…There will be reduction in news teams on back of that.”
Scott said voluntary redundancies would be offered in coming weeks and he could not guarantee there would be no cuts to ABC programs or broadcasts as he was still not sure what the final funding from the government will be.
“We have found $40 million of efficiencies. We will seek to find more. But sooner or later you reach the end of the efficiency run and the easiest levers to pull in budget cuts are programming cuts, and to cut a drama series and save millions of dollars with one decision is the easiest decision to make,” he said. “Fundamentally I can’t give any guarantees until I have more of an understanding about what people are talking about when talking about ‘down payment’.”
Last Friday the MEAA and the CPSU wrote a joint letter to Scott urging him to minimise job losses and to register the distress and concern expressed by members at the government’s decisions to cancel the Australia Network contract and impose a 1% annual cut to the ABC’S budget.
The letter also addressed the prospect of potential further cuts resulting from the Lewis efficiency review commissioned by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
They called on ABC management to share the results of the Lewis report with staff and unions.