Media Release

“ABC management – don’t disguise the cuts. LEAVE OUR SCREENS BLANK, OUR AIR-WAVES EMPTY!”

This is the response of Friends of the ABC (Vic.) to the latest programming cuts on the ABC.

“Government funding cuts are beginning to slice into the ABC’s flesh and bone,” says Dr June Factor, President of Friends of the ABC (Vic.). “The ABC is axing the Melbourne-produced early morning (7am) news bulletin, First Edition, scrapping three television news updates during the day, and eliminating 29 news and current affairs staff – including almost one-third of the news and current affairs staff in Melbourne.”

“This is the grim and gloomy future we are looking at, unless the federal government recognises that the ABC cannot fulfil its obligations to the Australian people under its charter without adequate funding,” she says.

Dr Factor pointed out that ABC management has already cut $10 million from arts and documentary programs. “We are losing highly qualified and experienced journalists. Now our access to independant comprehensive, accurate and unsensational news and current affairs on television thoughout the day is lessened.”

“In some States, there is only one daily newspaper, and one source of commercial news on radio. Across the country, our media is highly concentrated in a few private hands. Only the ABC is beholden neither to government nor to private companies. To cut the reach and range of ABC’s news and current affairs is to diminish the voice of democracy in Australia.”

Dr Factor says that Friends of the ABC recognise the difficulties facing ABC management and the Board because of the government’s intransigence.”

“Nonetheless, we cannot accept the validity of these cuts to essential ABC services. Our membership will not agree to the ABC committing a slow hari-kari. If programs disappear, the ABC should leave the screen blank for the duration of those programs, except for the message: