Government announces five-year funding terms for national broadcasters, restores ABC cuts

ABC Celebrities and staff join with ABC Chair Ita Buttrose to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Corporation at the Ultimo studios, Sydney. (Image: James Alcock/ABC)

ABC and SBS have welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of five-year funding terms as part of this year’s budget, with the former also set to benefit from an additional $83.7 million across four years.

Jim Chalmers’ first budget as Treasurer included moving the broadcasters beyond their current three-year funding terms from July 2023 in order to “better safeguard the independence of the national broadcasters, as well as support long-term strategic planning and innovation in high-quality content provision and service delivery, across Australia”.

The increased operational funding for the ABC is designed to reinstate cuts made by the previous government via its indexation pause. The broadcaster will also receive $32 million for international services across four years.

According to ABC managing director David Anderson, the funds will allow for a greater capacity in delivering emergency broadcasting services, increased investment in educational content, and the further development of digital platforms such as ABC iview, ABC Listen and ABC News Digital.

“The additional funding will allow the ABC to increase investment in local content and education services and further improve our critical emergency broadcasting services, particularly benefiting regional communities,” he said.

“It will also help grow reach in Pacific communities at an important time in the history of the region.

“We are always working to identify what we need to provide the Australian public and how we can manage our budget to effectively meet those expectations – especially as audience habits evolve and we transition to digital services, particularly among younger demographics.”

SBS has also expressed optimism about the road ahead, as the broadcaster works with the government on a Feasibility Study into the relocation of the Sydney-based headquarters and studios from Artarmon to Western Sydney.

“The outcomes of the Feasibility Study will be carefully considered by the SBS Board, which as the minister said recently, holds ultimate responsibility for any decision,” a spokesperson said.

“Our priority will remain accessing the talent, tools, and technologies we need to continue fulfilling our Charter each and every day for our audiences who are in all corners of Australia.”

Other winners of the budget included the community broadcasting sector, which will receive an additional $4 million per year of ongoing funding via Community Broadcasting Program from 2023-24, taking the annual funding for the program to over $20 million per year.

In the arts, $5 million will be provided to NIDA to “support the ongoing delivery of its courses recognising the acute skills shortages in the arts and creative sectors”.

The measures come ahead of the government’s National Cultural Policy, which will be launched before the end of the year.