Drama, comedy output down at ABC.

Figures released by the ABC, under questioning from Senator Hanson-Young, show that the broadcaster is producing less local drama and comedy than in recent years.

In 2012/13, during the final year of a funding boost under the Rudd govt, ABC produced 105 hours (65 drama / 40 comedy). In 2015 / 16 it was down to 70 hours (52 / 18).

The Children’s Unit dropped from 321 hours to 279. Factual and Documentaries fell massively from 624 hours to 137 despite an increase ins pending from $10,825,409 to $11,605,396 (excluding labour).

Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner said that aside from a modest increase in the budget for documentaries and narrative comedy, the numbers reflect a decline in all areas in recent years.

“Comparing 12/13 to 15/16, the ABC’s total content budget is down nearly 9 per cent, the children and drama budgets are down almost 20 per cent. These shrinking budgets inform reductions in hours produced by the ABC over the four years for drama and children’s by approximately 20 per cent, documentaries by 35 per cent and narrative comedy by an alarming 55 per cent. Most concerning is the significant fall in hours for factual production, down 85 per cent,” he said.

“These sobering numbers show the Government’s cuts to the ABC are having an effect on the ABC and in turn, the independent production sector. The 2014 budget continues to bite. We see a peak in production, expenditure and hours in 13/14 and a steep decline following. The Government must recommit funding to the ABC.

“These figures also support the arguments and recommendations made by Kim Dalton earlier in the year. In his essay, Mr Dalton makes a series of recommendations, including a greater commitment from the Government to the ABC and from the ABC to local content and the independent production sector through independent and regional quotas, regulated terms of trade and higher levels of transparency and accountability.

“It is a source of continuing frustration that it is up to the Senate to obtain these figures from the ABC. These same figures are supplied by the commercial television broadcasters to, and reported by, the ACMA under their licence conditions.”

Table: Expenditure and Hours

Table: Content Budget

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