Budget: $136m for ABC3, $20m for SBS, Community TV unhappy
The money men give ABC more for its children's channel and an increase to drama, but the SBS boost falls short of expectations and Community TV is all but ignored.
The Government will provide the ABC with $136.4 million in new funding over the next triennium to support the ABC’s plans for an advertising-free, digital children’s television channel and a significantly increased annual output of new Australian drama.
In addition to this new funding, the ABC will receive ongoing operational base funding of $698.7 million in 2009-10, $716.0 million in 2010–11 and $725.8 million in 2011–12.
The new ABC digital children’s channel will be operational before the end of the year.
In a statement Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said increased funding means the ABC will be able to produce around 90 hours of drama programs a year, similar levels required of the commercial broadcasters.
SBS will receive an extra $20 million over the next three years to produce up to 50 hours of new Australian content each year. It will receive ongoing operational base funding of $118.7 million in 2009–10, $120.6 million in 2010–11 and $123.3 million in 2011-12.
SBS had been seeking an additional $70m per year.
“The ABC and SBS play an important role reflecting our culture by telling Australian stories,” said the Minister.
The ABC will also receive $15.3 million over three years under the Rural and Regional National Broadband Network Initiative to deliver more than 50 enhanced ABC Local Broadband Hubs in regional Australia.
The increases trickled down the broadcasting tree.
$2.5 million is allocated over four years to training in community broadcasting (including radio). But the Budget did not contain an expected announcement on funding for community simulcasting arrangements. The Australian Community Television Alliance is already calling for an urgent meeting with Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy.
“For a relatively modest sum of money the Government can provide a long term future for the thousands of not-for-profit community groups and individuals across Australia that create programs for community channels”, said TVS manager Laurie Patton.
Elsewhere, $140 million is allocated over three years to help Australians get ready for digital television to be undertaken in regional South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.
Improved digital television reception is promised in outer metropolitan Adelaide. It is expected that a solution to improve digital television reception in the Para Escarpment area will be implemented by the end of 2009–10. Broadford in Victoria and Currie on King Island reception improvements are due for implementation in mid-2009.