Independent senator Nick Xenophon has proposed the ABC’s charter should be re-written to include state-based local quotas in television production.
It follows the closure of local production at ABC Adelaide, outside of News, and the departure of around 400 staff due to government funding cuts.
Senator Xenophon told ABC managing director Mark Scott at a Senate Inquiry in Adelaide, “We need to change the ABC charter to require specific amounts of local content.
“In other words, you need to have a local edition of The 7.30 Report.
“We need to have that local content and local television production because we’ve seen an increase in centralisation.”
But Scott defended ABC’s mixed model including outsourcing production and attracting funding body support.
“If you want us to do drama internally, we could do that but we would not be able to access some of the talent we could access,” he said.
“We certainly wouldn’t be able to access some of the industry expertise and we’d make less than half the drama that we make today.”
He said local content quotas would reduce the ABC’s flexibility and affect its editorial content.
“We think if imposed, it would constitute a significant financial impost and it would reduce the ABC board’s independence,” he said.
“You’re not seriously suggesting this bill would in any way compromise editorial independence?” Xenophon replied.
“We’re not telling you what to put in the content.”
The Environment and Communications Legislation Committee is looking at a bill to amend the ABC’s charter.