While viewers are set to protest today at ABC’s Ultimo headquarters, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull is putting ABC management back in the firing line with Lateline in its crosshairs.
On his website, Turnbull says it’s up to ABC management whether to cut programmes or save costs in its ‘back office and administrative costs’:
Following the completion of the efficiency study the ABC board and management know that there is ample capacity to achieve substantial savings without cutting the resources available for programming.
However it is always going to be a matter for the ABC itself to determine whether programmes should be continued or not. Everyone will have an opinion, as many do on the apparently foreshadowed changes to Lateline. After all, as Bruce Gyngell told me many years ago, everybody thinks they’re a programmer.
All broadcasters will make changes to their schedule from time to time and the ABC is no different.
But it is wrong to attempt to draw a link between budget cuts, back office savings and decisions made by management about programming. Suggestions that popular programmes 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 programme expenditure. The ABC may choose to cut programming rather than tackle back office and administrative costs – but that’s the ABC’s call.
In May headlines about Peppa Pig facing the chop attracted plenty of attention to ABC cuts, but avoided genuine debate about the loss of Australian productions. Since then ABC has confirmed The Time of our Lives would not be returning.
ABC is yet to confirm a final figure for its budget cuts under the government.
Guardian Australia, Fairfax and News Corp have all filed on Turnbull’s blog post.