Q James What is the latest news on the Government’s cut backs to the ABC Australian Network Asia/Pacific TV Service?
A The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Australian Network contract was terminated as part of the 2014 Federal Budget. This contract was worth about $220 million over 10 years, and has funded many positions in the Melbourne ABC headquarters, as well as a range of extra reporters in an international bureaux. The termination will come into effect sometime in August. So what does this mean for the ABC?
The ABC will lose about 80 staff as a result of the funding cut. These will be forced redundancies, meaning staff will not get a say in whether they get to keep their jobs, and staff will not be able to elect to take a redundancy. DFAT is insisting only jobs directly associated with the contract be cut, making it difficult for the ABC to have a say in how it approaches the redundancy process.
The forced redundancies will mostly fall across the Asia Pacific News Centre and ABC International. They will also have a significant impact on Radio Australia.
So what will be axed?
- Radio Australia will lose three programs: the Asia Pacific and Asia Review programs, as well as the Radio Australia Morning Program.
- Pacific Beat will continue, as will the RA hourly news bulletin, but English language content will be sourced from current ABC Radio and ABC News content.
- Language services in Tok Pisin, Kmer and Burmese will be reduced. There is still no word on what will happen to the French language service.
- The main Australia Network TV channel will be closed. The ABC hopes to be able to provide a limited television service to the Pacific region by sourcing content from the ABC, SBS and through co-production.
- The Asia Pacific News Channel’s (APNC) correspondent positions in Delhi, Jakarta, Beijing, the Pacific and Parliament House will be axed.
Will any of these cuts affect you? Do you think it is important for Australia to be able to broadcast both radio and television programs internationally, or is this a waste of taxpayer dollars?