8c a day for your ABC? Not bloody likely.
It was back in the 1980s that 8c a day was touted as the figure it cost per capita to run the public broadcaster. And while it is still often quoted, the reality is far from the truth.
After successive government cuts, the figure is now down to half that -4c a day. I guess 5c with rounding…?
At the Annual General Public Meeting today in Sydney, ABC Chief Financial Officer Louise Higgins explained how the broadcaster is adept at driving that money further.
“Our per capita funding is 34% lower than the average of other public broadcasters, including the BBC. In fact, we serve a population one-third the size of the UK, but do it with a budget one-eighth that of the BBC,” she said.
“Back in 1987, your ABC famously cost each Australian eight cents a day. In 1987 dollar terms we now cost each Australian just four cents a day. In other words, our per capita funding has halved in real terms.
“We’ve learnt to do a lot with our few cents a day. We’ve added multiple new television, radio and digital platforms. We have also increased our investment in quality Australian programs. In fact, for the money spent by Netflix on just two series of House of Cards, the ABC funded no fewer than 50 quality Australian programs, including 24 drama series.”
Higgins pointed to cuts in bureaucracy and unnecessary expenses, cutting back on managers and travel, and lowering transmission and distribution costs as part of the wider strategy to stretch the cents…
“By the end of 2018 our savings over the last the five years will have increased to $324 million; of which we have handed back 78% to government and put the balance back into content for you, our audiences,” she said.
“Despite the ABC’s declining funding and efficiency initiatives, we have invested wisely to ensure we remained true to our core, never compromising on our charter obligations. No other Australian media organisation, is as trusted, valued, or as distinctive as the ABC.”
You can read more from her speech here.